Butter Tarts Issues – Greeting cards and other things…
OK… So, we were visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery downtown. They were showing Cezanne on the first floor and it was great. Even though we aren’t very big fans of modern art, there were some interesting pieces/displays on the 2nd floor of modern Chinese art.
Anyway, we were in the gift shop and I was looking for possibly a post card of the MadeIn Company’s exercise stuff [about the middle of the page is a video with the exercise stuff; it’s really entertaining if you have ever seen a yoga exercise video] and they had some very tongue-in-cheek greeting cards making fun of various aspects of Canadian culture. One card was on butter tarts and basically said: Raisins or walnuts? Runny or firm? I thought this was so funny because there are some very similar heated debates in the US in such matters (e.g., light or dark syrup for a pecan pie, marshmallows or savory sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, but I digress.)
We had been in Vancouver for days but, unlike other trips where we’d visit several bakeries, we actually focused on chocolate (both solid and liquid) and Asian/Native People’s food. So, when I saw the card, I wanted to understand the butter tart debate.
First, there are many sites that discuss the debates surrounding butter tarts. One organization ran a contest and the results outline the issues (see Canada site Better Butter Tarts). Here are two: The Brandon Sun website or ctv website . Runny versus firm refers to the texture of the finished product. They are runny when you take them out of the oven and the top is firm to touch but jiggles a little and, when you bite into them, the center is runny. The debate about raisins or walnuts is actually a little more complicated. Either the tart has no add-ins (plain) or it can have raisins or nuts (and some say both?!). One site said that the corn syrup in Canada is different from what is found here in the US and not golden syrup (as in England). Some people add maple syrup or replace the corn syrup with maple syrup – although others say that it must have corn syrup. It’s fascinating.
The Butter Tart (Adrienne’s version)
*The debate – firm versus runny. We’re going to try for more firm just because we like more firm but it seems like there’s a split and also that some people like the top firm with runniness underneath.
*The debate – nothing, raisins and/or nuts. We’re going to use nuts because we like them. We love pecans but it definitely seems like a “no-no”. If I like this recipe, I may end up adding them.
**Note: Some people say that the Canadian corn syrup is different from American. It’s more golden colored but it’s not golden syrup. So, I decided to do part maple syrup.
**Note 2: The original recipe probably did not have cream or milk. I am not including cream or milk in my version right now. I may add it later and will add the optional amount below.
*I’m using my own pate brise (regular pie crust dough). Some people have used a puff pastry like dough. Most people use their own favorite recipe (including one with cream cheese but I have a hard time believing cream cheese was in the original.)
1/3 C (2 .67 ou/75 g) butter
¼ C brown sugar
¼ C corn syrup
¼ C maple syrup (using grade B)
(2 T milk or cream optional)
1 tsp vanilla
½ C walnuts (toasted and roughly chopped)
your favorite pie dough recipe
- Preheat oven to 450°. Spray tart tin (or tins). Use a cookie sheet to avoid spilling.
- Roll pie dough until thin. Use a cookie cutter that is just slightly larger than the whole of your pie tart pan holes. Put dough into tart pans and lightly dock. Put into fridge for about 10 min.
- If you’re going to par-bake, cut pieces of parchment to line tart tins. Use a few pie weights in each whole. Par-bake. (You don’t have to do this part but I like my tart dough very baked.) Bake 10 min. Remove from oven. Remove pie weights and liners.
- Pour filling about 2/3 full or just below rim. Reduce heat to 350°. Put back into the oven for 8-15 min. (Less if you want runny ones.) Cool.
**The family loved these butter tarts. I am likely to make them again – maybe mixing it up. For example, I could see using all maple syrup and no corn syrup, using pecans, or trying raisins and nuts. Quite fun when you’re not being too serious.
Hi! OK… So, I’ve been busy but haven’t we all. It seems like as the years go by, it’s harder and harder to sit down to write on top of being in the kitchen. I have so many kitchen projects, that it’s just hard to leave that nice warm place.
Anyway, every year we’ve been making gingerbread houses over the Xmas holidays. (I’ve posted some in the past.) At first we tried to have everything done before Christmas eve but as time has gone on, we’ve let things slide. It’s made it quite a bit more relaxed. I usually do final landscaping touches right before the gingerbread housebreaking part. This year I created the plans for my version of the San Diego mission. (We’ve done several missions over the last few years now.) I replaced the two large imposing walls that funnel people into the main church with a simple path (of cookie crumbs and chocolate rocks) and added a pond, as well. The innovation is the bell tower. It is 4 cookies placed together. In the middle, I added royal icing bars and hung little bells. The 3D effect was great; the little bells looked suspended inside those openings. I kept the side wall but didn’t do very much with it other than adding a set of doors. I made a fountain in the courtyard behind the church (because there is actually one there.)
In 2014 we adoped a Berner pup. She’s sweet but sometimes a little obnoxious. I made a Berner cookie of her… Everyone from the extended family comes over to do decorating. It’s fun and messy. I’m including a picture of the space shuttle and little astronauts that was part of our new cookie cutters set this year.
February is busy due to all sorts of birthdays and this year’s entrance of the Year of the Sheep (or Goat). Belated, Gung Hay Fat Choy (Happy New Year). I didn’t do as much this year for the breakfast: dan go (steamed egg cake from mom’s recipe) and mixed fruit with almond jello. We did have a family dinner with my sister’s family but we basically chose recipes that we’ve made in the past (and traditional dishes).
My youngest niece loves Nutella. So, we actually celebrate National (or is it International) Nutella Day. I usually make my own Nutella and this bread had Nutella in the middle and nutella across the top.
Mardis Gras also makes an appearance in February. I love making King’s cake. Here’s this year’s version. We also make a wide variety of sweet and savory pancakes (for Shrove Tuesday). This year I made gumbo and rice so that we had a little protein to go along with all the sweet.
March was a special pi day. We had to use our pi plate that we received for Xmas. (Pie day is actually in January and, of course, we made pie then, too.) On 3-14-15 9:25:53 we cut the pie….and we had pizza pie for dinner.
Note that my sister and her family live down the street. So, for the most part, we also have big celebratory dinners that go along with the big days – like Chinese New Year, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, etc. Anyway, for breakfast on St. Patrick’s day, we had potato pancakes with thinly sliced smoked salmon. Yum!
Phew. Needless to say, I was exhausted by the time spring break came but at least we’re all caught up a bit… Hope you all had as much fun eating from January to April as we did.
Hi! Needless to say, I’ve been off doing a lot of stuff these last few years. It’s been hard to find my center after my mother passed but things are getting better.
Anyway, I’ve been taking on-line classes. The first one I took was last summer on food science from Coursera. It was interesting, for the most part, but not heavy weight.
On the other hand, the course on graphic novels was fun but intense. My daughter who does amazing manga drawings was my inspiration. I loved getting back in touch with classic American comics, updating my knowledge about today’s comics and graphic novels, and learning how to analyze graphic novels as literature, as well as, creating my own little comic.
The picture to the left is the front page of my final project.
I didn’t expect the course to make me late for starting the Edx Gastronomy course on the Science of Food. This was quite a step up from the Coursera course – with famous chefs and Harvard profs and Harold McGee. (He’s a really nice man. I remember pondering a question about pasta and wine and he took the time to answer me.) While I wish I had reviewed my chemistry before taking the course, I enjoyed learning so much more. My project was on the effect of fats on bread doughs and the PDF is here:
Basically, I first examined when the best time to add fat might be and then I performed an experiment where I varied the type of fat used and compared to a control condition with no fat. I measured weight, height, volume, and elasticity, using just the tools that I had at home. The pictures are in the appendices but I’ve included a few here just to give you a flavor of the results:
Left, I’m measuring compression for elasticity calculations.
Below is the result of the compression for Exp2…
Left, the overall results.
Generally, I enjoyed learning new techniques and reviewing chemistry. I have a renewed interest in going back to my food testing… and also taking more courses. I’m hoping to create a graphic novel cookbook of recipes for my daughter over the next few years… wish me luck!
Before I left for Japan, I read a lot of non-fiction – travel guides, specialty books, personal memoirs, etc. There wasn’t enough time to read everything. Anyway, I did start this book before leaving and then finished it when I came back. As I said in my previous message, I do post on Goodreads for my books and this site for my food/travel adventures. This is a second crossover.
*Untangling My Chopsticks is a biography in the same tradition as Under the Tuscan Sun or On Rue Tatin. Basically, she travels to a foreign country, encounters difficulties, but manages to overcome and survive. This sentence shows what is common but doesn’t really capture the whole story or some of the very charming characters that helped along the way. Some of the help she receives follows a distinctly Japanese way of doing things and the reader is given an insight into what it might be like to try to live and work as an expatriate. Not only does she learn tea kaiseki, she leaves with lifelong friendships. If you’re headed to Japan, and Kyoto in particular, this would be one to skim. It’s not quite as dreamy and story-like as the other books but it does give you a flavor of Kyoto. I particularly liked the author’s description of making mochi.
*As in many of these books (fiction & non-fiction), there are recipes at the end of the chapters. I made two recipes from the book. The first one I made was the green tea ice cream. Rather than brewing tea, this recipe uses matcha – a concentrated green tea powder. This is more true to Japanese flavors and Asian flavors in general – the ice cream is not sickeningly sweet and the tea flavor is very strong. You can adjust the strength of the tea flavor by using less matcha. You can also make a simplified version of this recipe by adding matcha to softened vanilla ice cream.
The second one I made was the Year Crossing Buckwheat noodles. I did not use the fish cake – instead I used marinated tempeh. I loved the flavor of the broth here and the runny egg yolk just adds another dimension. For the fish cakes, you could probably also substituted cooked fresh fish or marinated/cooked tofu, as well. I’d still like to try some of the author’s tofu recipes.
*After having visited Japan, I can tell you that it’s sometimes incredibly difficult, with the language the hardest part (at least for me). With my upbringing and familiarity with Asian cultures in general, after one week I was able to blend. However, I couldn’t really ask the more difficult questions or convey the more complicated ideas. Of all the cities we visited, though, I loved Kyoto the best (with Nara a close second) but Tokyo was actually quite do-able for a big city and really, really clean.
*I loved trying all the different types of kaiseki meals when we were in Japan and you can read about one in my previous post. (I will get to posting about some other meals.) However, we found that the food from snack food to high end specialty restaurants was made with care and service was excellent.
After a pretty hairy spring (great b-day celebration followed the day after by my mother’s passing), we finally took off for Japan. This was our first trip and although I tried to do planning, with all the other stuff going on, it was pretty tough.
I started writing about Japan but then thought it was a bit boring. Rather than going through things in some organized fashion, I think it might make sense to just jump around and include notes every so often.
~During our visit, we tried 3 different kaiseki meals. These are traditional, multi-course meals – served with quiet beauty (read about them here ). The last of these was Nakaiseki Sen; Setagaya-ku Shimouma 5-35-5 2nd Floor Tokyo. It is actually a shojin ryori style, that is, all vegetarian with a Buddhist leaning.
~Because this restaurant is likely closing next month (at least that’s what the person who made the reservation told us), I will start with it first.
~The chef of Nakaiseki Sen is Yomiko Kano. You can read about her here . Essentially, as with all kaiseki meals, hers uses seasonal, local ingredients with a distinctly simpler country-style form.
~peanut tofu, baby corn, black beans, soy, seaweed
~peas – tofu base, asparagus
~yuba, aloe gelato, seaweed gelatin
~As with many things in Japan, even though there was a communication gap, everyone was very kind and patient with us, as we were with them, and things ended well. This was a delicious, beautiful meal in a locale that was both modern and traditional at the same time.
~Details: You need to call or ask someone to call for you to get a reservation. We took a taxi who let us off near the complex. From the outside, it looks like a regular apartment building. Inside you’ll find a beautifully appointed, multi-room place – wood floors and wood panels. (I can’t tell you how many times we got lost trying to find places. Google maps often dropped us in the back of buildings.)