La Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères [Blackberry Basil Sticky Buns with Goats Cheese Icing]

A few weeks ago, while we were waiting for all the little bits and pieces in the Seed to Sausage shop to come together, we decided to take a leisurely field trip out to a cheese producer we’re hoping to carry n-store.

The winding, potholed roads and rolling hills, still speckled with white from the long winter, guided us through the country side of Quebec to St. Sixte (near Thurso) and up the driveway of La Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères where we had the great pleasure of meeting Maggie Paradis. 



Maggie and her husband Christian began their story in 1999 when they started to milk their ewes and sell the milk to cheese makers around Quebec. When the listeriosis crisis hit, demand for product vanished and they were left with a tough decision - halt the milking or process their own milk into cheese. They forged ahead and Les Folies Bergères, roughly translated to “Crazy Shepherds”, was born. 

While we tasted, little more than satisfied sighs escaping us, Maggie took us through the production and styles of all her cheeses. From 
La Petite Folie, a soft unripened ewe’s milk cheese with a creamy texture that is spreadable (also available with a bloomy rind on it for a more yeasty finish) to the La Sorcière Bien Aimée, a goat brie that’s not as tangy/stinky as a traditional brie but has a lovely goat flavour, to the amazing La Coulee Douce, 100% sheep’s milk cheese with a local apple cider-washed rind… everything these cheese makers do is innovative, diverse and above all else, delicious. I came home with La Petite Folie and La Sorcière Bien Aimée so I could relish them in private, no one to observe my sighs of satisfaction. 


I decided to make something fun and unconventional with the soft, unripened goats cheese. I’ve seen it used as an icing for cinnamon buns before, but that seemed almost too mundane for such a cheese. I peeked in and out of the fridge, back and forth from my Flavor Bible and finally came out with these - an ooey-gooey blackberry bun with lemony, aromatic basil sugar and a sticky sweet goats cheese icing. They are everything. EVERYTHING. The flavours, the texture, the tang from the lemon and goat cheese. I am obsessed. I think you might be, too! 


Blackberry Basil Stick Buns with Goat Cheese Icing
makes 12 large buns

1 cup warm buttermilk (110 degrees F - 45 degrees C)
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 cup basil sugar* 
zest from 1 lemon
4 tbsp butter, very soft
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup fresh blackberries

4 oz soft, unripened goats cheese, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup lemon juice

For the dough
In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast into the warmed buttermilk along with the sugar. Stir gently and let it sit until frothy (8-10 minutes). Pour in the melted butter, beaten yolk and vanilla. Set aside. 

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt and nutmeg. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir with a fork until a shaggy ball starts to come together. Use your hands to fold the dough in the bowl until all the bits have come together and you have an almost uniform dough. Dump onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a clean, lightly-oiled bowl (being sure the surface of the dough is slick with a bit of oil) and cover with plastic wrap or a clean damp towel for 1 hour or until doubled in size. 

While the dough rises, make the filling. In a small bowl, stir together the basil sugar, lemon zest, softened butter and lemon juice. Set aside. 

When the dough is doubled, dump onto a clean, lightly floured surface and roll into an 18x14 inch rectangle. Sprinkle the basil lemon filling all over the dough leaving about 1/2 inch of clean dough around the edges. Roughly chop the blackberries and spread evenly over the filling. Starting at long side, tightly roll up, pinching seam to seal. Pop in the freezer for about 10 minutes just to firm things up so they slice easily. Once firmed, use a serrared knife to slice into 12 even piece. Place in a lightly oiled baking dish (2 pie plates or a 9x13 inch baking pan) and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour. After 30 minutes, preheat oven to 375. 

Pop buns in the oven and let bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown, covering with tin foil if they start getting too golden before they are cooked through. 

While they cook, place all icing ingredients into the food processor or a small bowl and process/whisk until smooth. Taste and add more lemon or sugar if needed. 

Remove buns from the oven and drizzle with all, or half, or the icing. You can reserve half the icing for when you serve them or just coat them completely right away. 

*basil sugar
1 cup white or cane sugar
about 8-10 big basil leaves, stems removed

place ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or mortar and pestle. Grind until leaves and sugar are uniform. It will be moist and fragrant. 


You Need a Snack [Blackberry Sour Cream Bran Muffins]

Sometimes you just need a small bite. Something to tame the angry gut-beasts during the day, enough to keep you going from breakfast to lunch, lunch to dinner. Snacks are up there on my list of extremely-necessary-things-to-make-it-through-the-day-without-killing-people. It’s in your best interest that I snack, and when I do, it has to be delicious. 

These muffins provide just that. Filling, not cloyingly sweet, but just enough honey to feel like you’re getting a treat. Full of toothsome wheat bran, oats and warm spices and bursting with oozy pockets of blackberry and a slight tang from the Greek yogurt and sour cream, they’re as delicious as they are full of goodness. And they make a great snack at any time of the day…especially when you slather them with a little salty butter if you’re not overly concerned with a little extra fat. 

Blackberry Sour Cream Bran Muffins
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa
makes 1 dozen muffins

If you don’t like the idea of sour cream, you can do a full cup of Greek yogurt instead. It does provide a really lovely tang, though, so don’t knock it until you try it. 

If you added a handful of dark chocolate chips, I wouldn’t be mad at you. 

1 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups wheatbran
1/2 cup quick cooking oats (or whole oats whizzed in the food processor until crumbly)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1/2 - 3/4 cups honey (I used 3/4 cup but I wanted them a touch sweeter)
1 tbsp molasses
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups chopped blackberries
brown or turbinado sugar, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Line a 12-muffin tin with paper or parchment muffin wrappers. 

In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. Set aside. 

In a smaller bowl, add the the wet ingredients and whisk them together until well combined. Fold the wet into the dry ingredients until just combined and no pockets of flour remain. Fold in the chopped blackberries. 

Fill muffin trays 3/4 of the way and sprinkle with a little brown or turbinado sugar. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. 


Tiny Rewards, Better Days [Cinnamon-Almond Butter Buns with Bittersweet Chocolate]

Some days require a pick me up and there’s no shame in allowing yourself a simple pleasure to help you navigate through the rest of your afternoon or evening with a smile on your face. Especially if that smile was brought on by the warm yeasty scent of freshly baked cinnamon buns. 

I made these a few weeks back on a particularly rough day. I spotted Oh, Lady Cakes' Small Batch Cinnamon Buns and felt that something like that would be the perfect reward for a day hard won. I switched them up a bit by using some organic almond butter I had laying around and tossing in some bittersweet chocolate. I'm a total lunatic for dark chocolate and almonds in any way/shape/form so this was a natural pairing for me and one I hadn't tried in a cinnamon bun before. They are decadent and barely sweet - just the way I like things. If you prefer sweeter sweets, add a bit more sugar or switch to sweeter chocolate. 

Cinnamon-Almond Butter Buns with Bittersweet Chocolate
adapted from Oh Lady Cakes
makes 10-12 servings

2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (between 105-108˚F)
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cane sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
4 cups unbleached flour

1/4 - 1/3 cup all-natural almond butter
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp room temperature butter
pinch sea salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

2 tbsp melted butter, for topping
2 tbsp coarse sugar (like turbinado)

For the dough:
Mix the yeast and warm water together in small bowl, stir gently once or twice, and let sit until frothy, 5-10 minutes. 

In another small bowl, stir together the melted butter and sugar, stirring until sugar is melted. Add the milk and mix to combine. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture and the milk/butter mixture. Using a fork, pull the flour, bit by bit, into the well while stirring. Once the dough comes together in a ball, start kneading it in the bowl to grab up all the rest of the flour. Dump onto a lightly floured counter and knead for 5-6 minutes until smooth. Place in a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise until doubled, 45mins -1 hour. 

Line countertop with parchment paper and dust with flour. Roll dough out into a 1/2” thick rectangle. 

For the filling:
Combine everything but the chocolate and stir to combine. Taste and add more cinnamon if you feel it’s necessary. It should taste sweet and equally of almonds and cinnamon. 

Spread mixture over the rolled out dough. Sprinkle chocolate over the filling. Starting at the short end, tightly roll the dough up. Cut into 10-12 equal rounds, place in a large, buttered/oiled baking dish (they should be touching each other). Let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 375. 

Brush buns with melted butter and sprinkle the coarse sugar (optional). Bake for 20-30 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool in pan.


Milk Shop Blog Guest Post [Pistachio-Rosewater Cupcakes]

I’ve started doing bi-monthly sweet-treat posts on the Milk Shop Blog to bring you all a little something to up your cavity count (surprisingly, I am a cavity virgin - so I think you’ll be ok, too!)

This month, I’ve shared a recipe for Pistachio-Rosewater Cupcakes that bring the flavours of the Middle East and nestle them into a North American tradition. They are simple, delicately flavoured, and oh-so-very-pretty to look at.  

Head on over and see the recipe here!


A Veggie Dilemma [Individual White Peach & Rhubarb Galettes with Rosewater Pastry]

As I was flying 40,000ft in the air over the British Columbia Rocky Mountains, something struck me (aside from the usual “I’m probably about to die. I better eat another crunchy Cheeto just in case!”)… 

I really need to eat some vegetables.

Yes, these are the thoughts that scatter throughout my mind when I’m not thinking about how the airplane is inevitably going to kill me (I get terribly psychotic on airplanes - the only cure is booze and candy… but isn’t that the cure for anything anytime?) 

The past week has been a never-ending feast of all things cream-sauced, butter-filled, sugar-crusted and hollandaised… my gut is feeling a little worse-for-wear to say the least. The very least. 

I returned home Saturday evening, tired, jet lagged and hungry, to a lively bundle of freshly cut, ruby red and green Rhubarb from my great friend Ashley’s Mom, Wendy. Keeping in mind my promise to eat more veggies and fruit this week, I got busy making some White Peach & Rhubarb Galettes. 

…..what?! Pie isn’t considered healthy? But it’s got fruit in it! Well jeez, guys. I can’t be held responsible for that! 

In all seriousness, these are not exactly healthy. But what they lack in nutrition, they make up for in utterly delightful flavour. The combination of the sweet, floral white peaches, tart rhubarb and gentle rose-water flavour is perhaps one of my new favourites. Just eat them in moderation (and don’t keep sneaking past your boyfriend to pick pieces of the dough off in the fridge and chew them as fast as you can so he doesn’t know… but he always knows).

Individual White Peach & Rhubarb Galettes with Rosewater Pastry
Pate brisee adapted from Martha Stewart

Note: White peaches, which have a lighter flesh colour and are slightly more floral in flavour than typical yellow peaches, are recommended but not mandatory in this recipe. 

Pate Brisee 
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup unsalted butter chilled and cut into small pieces
1 tbsp rosewater
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

In the bowl of a food processor (which you can chill for 30 minutes prior to dough making for optimal results), add the flour, sugar and salt and pulse for 5 seconds to blend.

Add the butter, rosewater and 2 tbsp of the ice water and pulse. Add more ice water, 1tbsp at a time while pulsing until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. When you pinch it, it should easily come together.

Pour out and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight (can be frozen and stored for 1 month).

Galette Filling
1lb (about 4 cups) trimmed rhubarb, sliced into 1” chunks
4 very ripe white peaches, pit removed, sliced thin
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp rosewater
1/4 cup cornstarch
coarse sugar for finishing

Toss all ingredient in a bowl.

Once dough has been chilled, divide into 8 equal sized portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece to a 7-inch round, 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the rounds to 2 baking sheets. Add a heaping 1/4 cup of the filling into the center of the dough. Fold edges over the filling leaving an opening in the center. 

Once all the rounds are filled and folded, brush the dough with water and sprinkle with coarse (turbinado or sanding) sugar. Place the trays in the fridge while you pre-heat the oven t0 400 degrees. 

Bake for 25 minutes until crust is golden. Turn heat down to 375 and bake until fruit filling is bubbling and set.

Remove and let cool on a wire rack with parchment paper underneath (to catch all the saucy drips).

Serve on their own, with a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on the side.


Life. And Brownies. [Pretzel & Peanut Crusted Cocoa Brownies]


Isn’t it odd? In a beautiful, bewildering, can’t-seem-to-wrap-your-head-around-it, how did I get here sort of way. The idea that one single day can bring about so many exciting opportunities, so many changes, exchanges, smiles, frustrations and successes never ceases to amaze me. Life is absurdly fascinating. 

I woke this morning feeling the same as always; tired, unmotivated to emerge from my comfy cocoon for the sake of work and wanting to stay in bed and snuggle with Ryder a little longer. I walked the same streets I do every day. McLeod to Gladstone. To Bank. To Slater. I sat at my desk, like thousands of days before. I ate my lunch, leftover ginger scallion meatballs with chicken stock, heated in the office microwaves, as always. I walked to the store to buy a birthday card for a friend. I said hello to some usual suspects, the perpetually cheerful homeless gent who sets up camp on the corner of Albert and O’Connor Street, the disinterested security officers who sit, sharing in discourse about the hockey game and the Subway around the corner, my co-workers poking fun at each other. I met Mr GL on Gloucester St for a ride home. I walked in the door to be greeted by an excited Ryder, her low grumbles stifled by her favourite florescent orange ball crammed far too deep into her gullet. My work bag fell from my shoulder onto the same cherry red chair it always does. 

And then my phone rang. A number I wasn’t familiar with. I sat and listened, for what felt like an hour, and received some potentially life changing news. Good news, I should say. But until next week, I must stay tight lipped about this news. 

And so I’ve come here to share the things I am allowed to share. Brownies! Sweet and salty brownies, to be more precise. 

As you know, I’m not one for sweets. But somehow, once a pinch of salt has been added to the mix, I turn into a mad woman, secretly hogging all the sweets to myself, scavenging for any crumbs that, god forbid, may have fallen from my mouth to the table below. And these Pretzel & Peanut Crusted Cocoa Brownies are no laughing matter. They are intensely cocoa-y, rich and dense. The crunchy, nutty, salty topping only accentuating the incredible chocolatey flavour. I could have easily devoured all 12 of them in one fell swoop…. but I took a deep breath, composed myself and resisted their sexy, salty advances. I wish you all the luck in the world doing the same thing. Truly. It is a feat of strength. 

Pretzel & Peanut Crusted Cocoa Brownies
Brownies adapted from Smitten Kitchen, topping is my own

1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (flaky sea salt works wonderfully here) 
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup pretzels
1/2 cup salt roasted peanuts
2 tbsp natural peanut butter

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan (I used an11 x 7 x 2 inch Rectangular Pan, which worked, but the brownies are a touch thin) with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

In a large heat-proof bowl, add the butter, sugar and cocoa powder. Place the bowl over a barely simmering pot of water on the stove (the bottom of the bowl shouldn’t touch the boiling water so try to use a smaller pot + bigger bowl combo). Let the butter melt and stir the cocoa and sugar into it slowly. Once everything is melted, remove from the heat and give it a good stir with a wooden spoon. It’ll still be quite gritty at this point. Let it cool until just warm (not hot - don’t want to cook the eggs!)

While you’re waiting for the cocoa mixture to cool, toss the pretzels and peanuts into a plastic bag and smash with a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet. Leave some larger pieces of pretzel as they give a nice texture to the finished product. Pour into a medium sized bowl and add the peanut butter. Stir slowly until everything has a light coating of peanut butter. 

Back to the brownies; Add the vanilla and salt and one egg. Mix well with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add the second egg and mix well. 

Add the flour to the bowl and stir until no flour-pockets can be seen. Beat with a wooden spoon/spatula for another minute to get everything really smooth and uniform. 

Pour batter into prepared pan and top with salty mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean. 

Let cool completely before cutting into 2” squares. 


Trust Me. [Cinnamon-Sugar & Toasted Pecan Biscotti]

We know each other, you and I, don’t we? You could probably even call us ‘friends’ by now, right? I share my deepest darkest secrets with you and in return, you listen, hungrily & wide-eyed, while I do. I think we’ve built up a fair amount of trust in our time together, haven’t we? I thought you might feel the same. And I’m so glad. 

You may recall I’ve told you, not once, twice or even thrice… but many times, that I am just not a sweets-person. Salty, crunchy, savoury, cheesy…. those are my homies. And to them, I will always be true. Through thick and thin[-cut bacon].


On occasion, rare occasion, I try something that restores my faith in the land of all things sugar. And in the case of these Biscotti, the ones I’m eating right this second [… and ate this morning for breakfast, and last night for a snack, and one fresh out of the oven] have roused my one lowly sweet-tooth from a useless mundane existence. If I do have a sweet-treat, it’s one or two of something I’ve made to share that I just can’t serve without taste-testing. Mr. GL usually reaps the benefit of those batches. But this time, with these sparkly, cinnamon-sugar dusted Italian cookies, I find myself shooting gluttonous, devouring glances his way every time he reaches for that bag. I consider them mine. ALL mine. And God help anyone who stands between me and them.

When I tell you they are perfect, warm spiced and crumbly, speckled throughout with toasted pecans and crisp around the edges with a layer of baked-on cinnamon sugar… I need you to trust me. They are simply magnificent. Not too sweet, making them easy to, unconvincingly, pass off as a breakfast food, but sweet enough to satisfy that evening craving for just a little treat. Dunked into coffee, or as I’ve become accustomed, in my earl grey, they barrel past my old standby and have quickly become my most favourite sweet-treat. It should also be said that they taste just like Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, which I became very closely acquainted with as a child. Trust me, friends. Just trust me. You will want these on Christmas morning while you sip your coffee and baileys. 

Cinnamon-Sugar & Toasted-Pecan Biscotti
adapted from Joy the Baker

2 cups All Purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) butter, room temperature
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 egg white
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4-1/3 cups toasted pecans, roughly chopped

1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325. And cover two baking sheets in parchment paper. Arrange oven racks to top and bottom third of the oven.

In a medium sized bowl, add the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine. Set aside. 

In you stand mixer or a bowl with hand-mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Scrape the sides of the bowl down with a spatula. Add 1 whole egg and the extra egg yolk and mix to combine. Scrape the bowl again. Add the vanilla and 1/2 the dry mix. Stir briefly and add the rest of the dry ingredients and the pecans. Scrape the bowl and give it one more quick mix. 

Pour half the dough onto each baking sheet and form into logs (2-2 1/2” wide) pressing down a touch.

Combine the cinnamon and sugar for the topping. 

Brush the logs with remaining egg whites and sprinkle,GENEROUSLY with cinnamon-sugar. Put one sheet in the upper-third of the oven and one in the lower. Bake for 20 minutes and then switch the pans. Bake for another 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. 

Remove from oven and let cool until you’re able to handle the logs. Once cool use a serrated knife to carefully slice 1/2” thick slices from the log. Place Biscotti cut side down on baking sheet and sprinkle again, very generously, with cinnamon-sugar. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown all over. Cool and then cram as many into your greedy little gob as you possible can. 

One final word to the wise; you’ll hide these from everyone in your house if you know what’s good for you.