Hooray! Spring is finally here and we can’t wait for fresh produce.

Farmers’ Markets will be starting up soon!

After a long, cold winter, we eagerly await the arrival of Spring. A time when everything in nature starts to renew and grow. The days get longer, and the temperatures get warmer. We welcome all the beautiful changes that we see all around us! Flowers begin to bloom, and we are excited about all fresh vegetables and fruit we will see at our grocers and food markets over the next several months.

This year why not check out your local farmers’ markets for farm-fresh goodness. We checked out the Farmers Markets Ontario website and it currently lists 184 member markets across Ontario! That’s awesome. They typically run from about May to October, but you will find that there are more and more farmers’ markets open year-round. Find and Ontario Farmers’ Market: http://farmersmarketsontario.com/

Ontario growers rely on greenhouses to help them get ahead of the season for many crops. With a short growing season, it’s critical for many crops to get seeded early so we can enjoy them sooner and for a longer period of time. We have provided several resources below which will help you find a market or local farm where you can buy amazing seasonal produce. What a great way for us to support our hard-working farmers! Visit a Farm; click here to find one near you: http://ontariofarmfresh.com/

Are you sick of potatoes and root vegetables?? Get ready for all the fresh produce that will be sprouting soon!! Here’s a quick rundown on what will be available over the next few months; use the Harvest Ontario “What’s in Season guide” for a full listing of fruits and veggies: https://www.harvestontario.com/whatinseason

In April:

  • asparagus
  • rhubarb

In May and June:

  • beans
  • beets
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • cherries
  • cucumber
  • lettuce
  • peas
  • radishes
  • strawberries

To Celebrate Spring, we thought you might like to try our mouth-watering recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Pie!!

Summer Campers making pies!

Rooks to Cooks’ Signature Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Yield: 1 9-inch pie

Pie Dough Ingredients:

  • 375g all-purpose flour
  • 160g frozen unsalted butter
  • 125g vegetable shortening or pure lard
  • 100g COLD water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 15g brown sugar

Strawberry Rhubarb Ingredients:

  • 2  cups of red rhubarb
  • 2 ½ cup of strawberries (washed and cut)
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 tbsp minute tapioca
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • ½ tsp of lemon juice
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp butter, cubed small
  • 1 egg white beaten with 1 tsp water
  • Turbinado sugar

Crust Directions:

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the salt, sugar, flour, butter, shortening, mix together.
  2. Rub shortening into flour until reduced to pea sized crumbs. Once pea sized crumbs, grate cold butter into flour. Toss butter lightly using the salad tossing method.
  3. Add cold water little bits at a time, mixing in between additions. Mix just enough to incorporate, do not over mix!
  4. Transfer dough to floured table. Shape into a thick disc. Tightly cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before rolling.
  5. Divide dough in half.
  6. Roll out the first half and shape to pie plate and crimp the crust with a fork.
  7. Roll out the second half and cut into strips for lattice top.

Filling Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a bowl, mix  rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, tapioca, flour, lemon juice and zest, cinnamon, and vanilla.
  3. Pour the mixture onto the chilled crust pie plate.
  4. Cover the filling with the lattice top.
  5. Seal the edges.
  6. Brush with egg wash and garnish with turbinado sugar.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes at 400F, then reduce heat to 350F and bake for an additional 50 – 70 minutes, until pastry is golden brown and filling is soft.
  8. ENJOY!

Other Resources:
To Search Ontario’s directory of agritourism attractions, visit: https://www.harvestontario.com

Meatballs anyone? It’s National Meatball Day!

#NationalMeatball Day

FUN FACTS:

  • Meatballs can be found in many different cultures: Italian, Greek, Swedish, Turkish, Vietnamese and many more …. A lot of countries have their own take on the meatball using different types of ground meat and spices.
  • Have you ever heard the song “On Top of Spaghetti” by Tom Glazer? It’s about a meatball that has a bit of a misadventure: “I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed …”. We thought you might like to check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSbSjRJ9xz4
  • World’s Largest Meatball: In 2017, the Italian-American Club of Hilton Head Island, SC, set the record for largest meatball: it weighed 1,757 pounds! It took lots of planning and even special equipment was made to cook the meatball (Guinness World Records).

Today, we are thrilled to share our amazing Signature Meatball recipe. You’re gonna love them!

Rooks to Cooks’ Signature Meatballs

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cups stale Italian bread, crumbled
  • ¾ cups lukewarm water
  • ½ cup olive oil

Directions:

  • Combine ground beef in a large bowl.
  • Add garlic, eggs, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.
  • Blend breadcrumbs into meat mixture.
  • Slowly add the water, 1/2 cup at a time. The mixture should be very moist but still hold its shape if rolled into meatballs (TIP: I usually use about 1 1/4 cups of water). Shape into meatballs.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Fry meatballs in batches. When the meatball is very brown and slightly crisp remove from the heat and drain on a paper towel. (TIP: If your mixture is too wet, cover the meatballs while they are cooking so that they hold their shape better).
  • For the Italian Meatball version, add your meatballs to the pan with your tomato sauce. Cover partly and simmer for 30 minutes. Be sure to turn the meatballs occasionally.
  • Cook your pasta of choice – we like spaghetti!
  • Pour the sauce and meatballs over your pasta to combine; then serve and enjoy.

National Sticky Bun Day – Yay!

Fun Facts:

  • Sticky buns and Cinnamon buns are similar when it comes to the dough (both are made with yeast dough); it is the glaze that sets them apart.
  • Sticky buns are made with a caramel glaze that goes in the baking pan before the buns are placed on top.
  • In the UK, sticky buns are called Chelsea Buns.
  • It is thought that the Ancient Egyptians were the first to add honey and nuts to their bread.

In honour of Sticky Bun Day, we are sharing our Signature Cinnamon Bun Recipe! It’s a sweet treat that we know you will enjoy 🙂

Rooks To Cooks’ Signature Cinnamon Bun Recipe

Yield: 12-14 buns

Ingredients:

  • For the Dough
    • ¾ Cup warm water
    • 2 ¼ tsp dry active yeast
    • ½ cup granulated sugar
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ¼ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
    • 1 egg, room temperature
    • 1/3 cup canola oil
    • 4 ½ – 5 cups all purpose unbleached flour
  • For the filling
    • ½ Cup melted butter
    • 1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
    • 2 ½ Tbsp ground cinnamon
    • 2 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • For the frosting
    • ¼ cup softened margarine
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • ½ Tbsp corn syrup
    • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
    • 1 ¼ cup powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Making the Dough 
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, pour in water, yeast and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar. Stir and proof 5 minutes.
  • Once mixture looks bubbly and frothy, pour in remaining sugar and salt. Stir on low for 15-20 seconds.
  • In a small bowl, measure buttermilk, oil and egg. Whisk ingredients together until egg is incorporated to other two ingredients.
  • Pour contents into the water and yeast mixture. Stir another 20 seconds in the mixer.
  • Pour 2 cups of flour into mixer and stir on low until incorporated. Sprinkle flour in by 1/4 cup increments until dough cleans the sides and bottom of the bowl. Dough should be sticky but not sticky enough to stick to your hands when touched. Once it has reached this stage, turn mixer on and knead for 5 minutes.
  • Remove dough from bowl, grease and replace back into same mixing bowl {since it’s practically clean anyways}. Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel. Rise 1-2 hours or until dough has doubled in size.

2. Filling and Cutting Rolls

  • In a medium size bowl, stir brown sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch together until combined. Set aside. Punch down dough.
  • Flour a large clean table liberally with flour. Lightly flour dough as well. Roll dough out to be a 20×30 rectangle {or as close to that as possible} while moving dough around to ensure it’s not sticking to your work surface. If it’s a little short or uneven, feel free to cut off the edges to even it all out. {FYI-I cut off some dough on one side and filled in a spot that needed more dough on the other side to make a more even rectangle}.
  • Spread softened margarine over dough, being sure to go right to the edges leaving a 1-inch strip untouched on one of the longer sides of dough.
  • Dump brown sugar mixture onto the middle of the dough and spread with your hands, creating an even layer over top of the margarine, still leaving that 1-inch strip of dough untouched. If you have any filling that falls off the sides of the dough, use a bench scraper to replace.
  • Lightly press the sugar mixture into the margarine using a rolling pin. Roll the dough up into a tight log, finishing with the plain dough on the bottom to seal the entire thing together. Cut off the uneven ends to even out the log. Score log every 2 inches and then slice your rolls using those marks.
  • Place into parchment paper lined, margarine greased pans. 12 into a 9×13, 3 remaining into a loaf pan, or 8×8 with the small ends. Cover pans with plastic wrap and dish towels. Let rolls rise another 1-2 hours or until they are touching and have risen almost double.
  • Bake in a preheated 350 degree for 17 minutes, or until tops start to brown. Watch them carefully!

3. For the Frosting

  • While the rolls are baking, whip cream cheese and margarine together. Stir in vanilla, corn syrup and lemon juice. Scrape sides and mix again.
  • Pour in powdered sugar and stir slowly until it starts to incorporate. Then mix on high for 5 minutes or until frosting starts to lighten in color. Scrape sides and mix again briefly.
  • Once rolls have been removed from the oven, frost using half the amount made. Then after they have cooled a few more minutes, frost again with remaining frosting. The first frosting will melt down into the rolls and the second layer should stay put. Serve warm.

National Tortellini Day today!

#nationaltortelliniday

Making fresh pasta at Summer Camp

Fun Facts:

  • It is believed that the oldest tortellini recipe dates back to Italy around 1570.
  • This small ring-shaped pasta is commonly stuffed with meat or cheese.
  • Tortellini kind of looks like a belly button, so it is also known as “ombelico” pasta.
  • Tortellini is always made with an egg pasta with various fillings and it is traditionally served in a broth, although many people eat it with a creamy Alfredo sauce or tomato sauce.

How about making some fresh pasta? Even though we are celebrating tortellini today, we think that a stuffed ravioli is equally delicious!! Following is our amazing recipe for Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli – we think you will eat this one up big time!!

Rooks to Cooks’ Signature Pasta dough

Yield: 500g (4 Portions)

Ingredients:

  • 400g 00 flour
  • 4 whole eggs
  • Water as needed – approximately 3 Tbsp

Directions:

  1. Using the hook attachment, mix flour and eggs in a stand-up mixer until dough resembles semolina.
  2. Add water, as needed, until dough comes together. You want the dough to be hydrated enough that you can knead it together, but dry enough that it will be easy to work with.
  3. Once dough comes together, remove from mixer and knead by hand until a nice smooth ball forms.
  4. Wrap and let rest for 30 minutes before rolling. Refrigerate when not in use.

Fresh Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli

Yield: 12 jumbo raviolis

Ingredients:

  • 170g frozen spinach, thawed.
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 225g ricotta
  • 25g parmesan, grated
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp lemon zest

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, mix spinach, salt and pepper.
  2. In a food processor, blend ricotta, parmesan, nutmeg, lemon zest, spinach and pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
  3. Fill a piping bag with the spinach mixture.
  4. Roll out the dough.
  5. On a sheet of dough, pipe spinach mixture into a 2.5 cm circles. Pipe spinach ricotta filling in the center.
  6. With a pastry brush, brush egg wash around filling. Press the dough together ensuring a strong seal. Be sure that there is no air inside the ravioli. Cut out ravioli.
  7. Cook ravioli in boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Reserve ¼ cup of pasta water.
  8. In a small saucepan, melt 8 tbsp of butter until it foams. Add ¼ cup pasta water and cook for a minute.
  9. Drizzle the butter sauce onto each ravioli.

National Pizza Day – we have a recipe for that!

#NationalPizzaDay

FUN FACTS:

  • It is believed that the first commercial pizza originated in Italy in the 18th century.
  • The pizza Margherita owes its name to Italy’s Queen Margherita. Apparently, in 1889, she visited the Pizzeria Brandi in Naples and the pizza maker created a special pie for her. It consisted of three colours in the Italian flag: tomatoes (red), mozzarella (white), and basil (green).
  • The Hawaiian Pizza was invented in Canada; it is topped with tomato sauce, cheese, pineapple, and Canadian bacon or ham.
  • Pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping.
  • Saturday is the most popular night to eat pizza.

It’s National Pizza Day and we are sharing our scrumptious Signature recipes for Pizza Sauce AND Pizza Dough. Delizioso!

Rooks to Cooks’ Signature Pizza sauce

Yield: Approximately 3 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 -28 oz can whole unsalted tomatoes
  • 1/4 bunch of basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Strain tomatoes using a colander. Using your hands, puncture the tomatoes to release the juice contained.
  2. Meanwhile in a food processor, process garlic, basil and olive oil together. Add in strained tomatoes and continue to pulse until ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Rooks to Cooks’ Traditional Napoleon Style Pizza Dough  

Yield: Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups 00 flour + some for dusting
  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 1/4 c warm water

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven as high as it will go for at least 45 minutes to one hour.
  2. In the bowl of your KitchenAid use the paddle attachment to mix the flour, sea salt and dry active yeast on low speed until all is incorporated. Add the warm water.
  3. Switch to the dough hook and mix together on low speed for 8 to 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and sticky but should not stick to the sides of the bowl, only a little to the bottom.
  4. If the dough sticks to the sides sprinkle in a little more flour, if it is too dry then add a bit more water.
  5. After the 8 minutes have passed remove the dough from the KitchenAid and cut it into 6 pieces and form them into rounds. Place them on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and drizzle with 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature and rise for 1-2 hours.
  6. Sprinkle the counter with a little bit of flour, take one piece of dough and press down on it with your fingers until you have 1/2″ thick circle or oval. Using your fists and knuckles start stretching the dough until 10″ in diameter making sure not to tear it.
  7. Dust your pizza peel (or a piece of cardboard) very well with semolina flour or corn meal and set your pizza dough on it making sure it slides easily when moved. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of your pizza sauce in the centre and spread it around with the back of a spoon leaving 1 inch of space at the edges and making sure not to get any on the peel. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and add your favourite toppings.
  8. Gently slide the pie on the preheated pizza stone in a hot 525 degree F or more oven, and bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown on the edges.
  9. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with basil and freshly grated parmigiano reggianno. Allow pizza to rest for a few minutes for the cheese to set.

National Croissant Day! Oui, Oui!

Fun Facts:

  • Croissant means “crescent” in French; referring to its shape.
  • It is believed that the croissant actually originated in Austria, sometime in the 13th Century.
  • The main ingredient of puff pastry is butter – it gives it the delicious flavour and flakiness.
  • Croissants can be filled with numerous foods, such as, chocolate, ham and cheese, nuts, dried fruits.

Check out our Croissant Recipe – so buttery and delicious!

Croissants

Yield: 14 croissants

Ingredients:

  • 480g flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast
  • 58g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 353mL cup of cold milk
  • 340g cold butter for laminating, cold but pliable
  • Extra flour for dusting
  • 1 egg + a pinch of salt for egg wash

Dough directions:

  1. Using the standmixer with the dough hook attachment, mix the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, and 58g of butter at a slow speed.
  2. Pour the milk gradually as the mixer is mixing on low. When all the milk has been poured, increase speed to medium.
  3. It is done mixing once the dough no longer clings to the side of the bowl.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Laminating directions:

  1. On a sheet of parchment paper, roll out 340g of butter into a square (20cm by 20cm).
  2. Refrigerate until you are ready to laminate.
  3. Roll the dough out to a square (25cm by 25cm).
  4. Rotate the dough so that it is a diamond. Place the square of butter into the diamond.
  5. Fold the dough corners into the middle .

6. Roll the dough into a rectangle (60cm by 20cm). Fold the dough like a book.

7. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

8. Roll the dough into a rectangle (50cm by 20cm).  Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Feel free to leave overnight.

Rolling directions for croissant:

  1. Roll the dough into a rectangle (75cm by 20cm). Cut into triangles.

Rolling directions for pain au chocolat:

  1. Roll the dough into a rectangle (75cm by 20cm). Put chocolat on one edge and roll the dough into a log. Cut into smaller pieces.

Baking directions:

2. Brush with egg wash and proof for 2 hours.

3. Egg wash one more time and bake at 375F for 10 minutes. Rotate croissants, then bake for 8 more minutes.