Canadian readers, you know Best of Bridge cookbooks, eh? You grew up with them too, eh? Your moms and aunts and cousins cooked with them, for weeknight suppers but most especially for parties, eh? (Sorry, I’ll quit with the eh’s.)
After twenty-two years and six cookbooks, the Best of Bridge is gearing up for a new generation of cooks – with two collections of favorite recipes, “The Best of the Best” and “The REST of the Best” of the Best of Bridge. Confusing, I know, that’s a lot of bests. If a double-negative makes a positive, does a triple best make a surefire hit? Chances are!
The morning after the cookbooks hit my mailbox, I sat down with a cup of tea (real Red Rose, thank you …) but got no further than breakfast before draining my teacup (Royal Albert, thank you …) and turning on the oven.
Forty-five minutes later, we broke open warm muffins, barely sweet, extra-tender and full of orange essence. It would be easy to embellish these muffins – with orange zest added with the flour, say, or chopped golden raisins or toasted pecans or even, alors, mini chocolate chips. Me, I loved them plain with a little marmalade.
Once again, Best of Bridge, you are the best.
Time to table: 45 minutes but honestly, best after a few hours
Makes 12 regular-size muffins
- 1 whole orange, skin left on, ends trimmed, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup (135g) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup (58g) sugar
- 1/4 cup (47g) vegetable oil
- 1 cup flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 125g
- 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour, fluffed to aerate or 62g
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon table salt
Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a muffin tin or line cups with paper or (my favorite) silicone muffin cups.
Place the chopped orange, OJ concentrate, egg, sugar and oil in a blender and whiz away until smooth and airy, about a minute.
Now – decide if you want to save a dish and continue mixing in the blender or go easy on yourself and move to a mixing bowl. Me, I’d move to the mixing bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix just until blended.
Using two spoons, one to scoop and one to scrape, fill muffin tins evenly. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool. Serve with butter and jam or plain. The flavors develop over a couple of hours and the muffins stay moist and tender for a good two days.
For me, the answer is easy. My Canadian recipes are family recipes, the ones that come from my mom's side of the family. Are they "Canadian" in the way that "baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet" are American? Not really.
A couple of years ago, I scoured the cookbook sections in both Toronto and Winnipeg bookstores but found nothing that I felt really represented Canada well. Perhaps my search is a fool's game, is there one definitive "American" cookbook either? Of course not. I did find the lovely Across the Table: An Indulgent Look at Food in Canada by Cynthia Wine (what a great name for a food writer!) with gorgeous original watercolours by Canadian artist Mary Pratt.
So Canadian Readers, is there a cookbook you think of as "Canadian"? one you might gift to a visitor from another country, say? or one you think somehow wraps its arms around the vast melting pot that is Canada?
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