Made at home: Tortilla (Spanish Omelette)

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The bar and bean eat guacamole and salsa at every opportunity, so when the latest Kinfolk magazine featured a recipe for tortilla we were a little excited. While not specifically a breakfast dish, and while this recipe made no mention of the green or red, we knew we had stumbled upon a potentially killer morning meal. We began by frying a sliced half onion and a thinly sliced potato until crispy and tender, respectively. Setting that aside, we used the same pan to fry four beaten eggs until a little cooked on bottom. We scattered the potato and onion over our frying eggs, and, veering off the beaten path (aka the recipe), we added a healthy handful of Balderson cheddar. Fold all that in half and continue cooking until browned on each side and you have yourself a delicious tortilla. If you’re us, you’ll serve your tortilla with guacamole, salsa, and Greek yogurt or sour cream. Otherwise, we hear tortillas are great as a take-away lunch. Just think of the possibilities!


Made at Home: Donut Cakes


Donuts are one of our guiltiest of pleasures. They weren’t always such temptations; Tim Hortons’ donuts are good, but not go-out-of-your-way good. It wasn’t until the artisanal donuts at Holy Donut in Portland, Maine that we became truly hooked. Back in Halifax, our old home, we were lucky to find that a new donut shop had become a regular at the Alderney Landing Farmers Market. Both delicious and dangerous, we were lucky we could only access those heavenly halos on Saturday mornings. St. John’s, on the other hand, is donut-dry. So far we haven’t found any bakers consistently pumping out fine donuts.

In steps the bar and bean. Risking an Icarus moment, we finally took it upon ourselves to DIY a batch. As a precaution, we did opt for a lower-fat, baked version of the donut, saving our calories for the rich toppings. We also decided to go with a mini bundt pan because it was available, and because we felt it would be more versatile in the long run (and have a few ideas in mind for future posts). Ergo, we present a recipe for three flavours of donut cakes!

We used this baked donut recipe for our base, pouring the batter into a mini bundt pan instead of forming rings. The recipes below can of course be doubled, tripled, and beyond. For our health, we chose to make only 6 of these babies.

Topping 1: The “Almond Ring”

Inspired by the almond ring pastries at the Gingerbread Haus bakery in Halifax, this is an almond-encrusted honey glaze.

1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp honey
4 tsp whole milk (we used half blend cream, half 1% milk)
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Whisk together the sugar, honey, and milk/cream until smooth. Drizzle generously over donuts and sprinkle with almonds.

Topping 2: Strawberry-Yogurt Sprinkle

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp strawberry greek yogurt
1 cup confectioners sugar
Lots of sprinkles

Whisk together yogurt and sugar until smooth. Dip donuts in yogurt frosting, and then immediately in shallow bowl of sprinkles.

Topping 3: Maple Bacon

Inspired by bacon-brown sugar donuts (a favourite of ours), we added a twist of maple. The ratios for the frosting are approx. 1 butter to 2 maple syrup to 4 icing sugar.

2 slices bacon
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup icing sugar

Bake bacon at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, flipping once. Meanwhile, whisk together brown sugar and 1 tbsp maple syrup. Drain bacon and brush with sugar mixture. Bake for 5 more minutes, then chop coarsely.

For the frosting, melt butter along with maple syrup in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and whisk in confectioners sugar, allowing to cool/thicken. Dunk your donuts in the frosting and sprinkle with bacon pieces.

Finally, and most importantly, enjoy!


Made at Home: Moscow Mule

mule_1two copyingredFor Valentines Day, Mike surprised me with this totally rad copper mug. I had been drooling over copper kitchenware all week, so when he placed the mug in my hands I was ecstatic. I instantly began drinking everything out of it. This was a big mistake. Turns out, copper is an excellent heat conductor, which makes it great for kettles and pots, but not so great for holding hot drinks with your bare hands.

After doing some research, I learned that copper mugs are largely used for an alcoholic drink called a “Moscow Mule.” It’s a simple combination of ginger beer, vodka, and lime juice. Want to try one out? Here’s how we make ‘em:

Moscow Mule
(serves 1)
1.5 oz vodka
4.5 oz alcoholic ginger beer
Sprig of rosemary
Pour vodka and ginger beer into mug. Squeeze in a generous amount of lime juice. Take a sprig of rosemary and wet it slightly. Shake off excess water and coat it in sugar (it helps if you put the sugar on a plate and roll the sprig onto the sugar). Stir the alcohol to mix, add ice, and garnish with the sugared sprig of rosemary.


Made at Home: Ramen

Mike and I have wanted to make our own ramen for some time now. We finally tried our hand at it this weekend, and it was so good and surprisingly easy. We used a combination of this recipe from BBC Good Foodthis recipe from Japanese Cooking 101, and little bit of our own ingenuity. I’m not sure how authentic it is, but it was so awesome we didn’t really care. Here’s what we did:

For the broth:
3 cups chicken broth
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp crushed ginger
4 garlic cloves, halved
Dash of chilli powder
Few spoons green onions, chopped
Few spoons of sugar (to taste – depending on the saltiness of the broth)

Toss all ingredients in a soup pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. While thats simmering, cook up two portions of ramen noodles. Now the fun part! Add whatever veggies and protein you’d like. For ours, we blanched some swiss chard and bean sprouts, and fried up some shrimp and mushrooms. We then topped the whole thing off with a boiled egg and some green onions. When your broth is done, ladle it into two bowls and divide the noodles. Then add in the veggies and protein, and you’re done!

Move over pumpkin spice, I’ve got a new obsession this fall.


Made at Home: The Most Important Meal

Mike and I used to go out to breakfast/brunch at least once a week. It was one of our favourite traditions. At one particular diner in Halifax (The Armview) we became regulars, coming by each week to order a benny and drink cup after cup of hot coffee. When we left for St. John’s we had to say goodbye to The Armview. We thought about trying to find a similar spot here, but ultimately decided we would turn our kitchen into our new favourite diner. This fit well with our journey to a simpler life, and we were both excited to try out some new recipes. So far we’ve made our own bagels, granola, and yogurt. We’ve also learned how to properly poach an egg and make a killer hollandaise. It’s a limited menu I admit, but our kitchen is the only spot in town that knows just how I like my bagels toasted, or just how much maple syrup Mike likes in his granola (hint: it’s a lot).


Start Small




I think change comes easiest when it’s incremental – little modifications here and there that build up over time. Mike and I are pretty realistic when it comes to our journey to a simpler life. Sure, we’d love to go out and buy a smoker and start making our own bacon, but we’ll probably have more success with our lifestyle change if we start small.

The first thing I did was buy some local produce. I didn’t venture out to any farmer’s markets (although that is on the list), just my usual grocery store. They had a very limited selection of local veggies, but when I found these beautiful turnips I couldn’t resist. I decided to make a turnip puree, using this simple recipe that only uses a few ingredients (turnips, milk, water, a little olive oil, S+P). It was so good. Like, I may never need mashed potatoes again, good. A big thank you to Peachytown Farms – your turnips are the tops!

Another small change Mike and I made was to quit our Starbucks habit. Only homemade lattes, cappuccinos, americanos, canadianas, and iced coffees from now on! We may have to dust off this old recipe from the bar and bean archives.

Lastly, we tried our hand at bread baking. Mike has made bread before, but I never have. In the spirit of starting small, we used a no-knead recipe. I’ll admit, it was kind of annoying having to wait 12+ hours for it to rise (I wanted bread NOW), but well worth it. Just the smell of fresh bread baking in the house made up for the wait.

It’s only week 1, but so far so good. We’re both happy with the progress. Small steps can lead to great, big things.


Made at Home: Gazpacho

Hot days means cold soup. I’ve always wanted to make gazpacho and was totally thrilled with the super simple recipe I found in this cookbook (side note: this cookbook is amazing and I totally recommend picking it up – such pretty illustrations and good recipes!). All you have to do is chop up 6 ripe peeled tomatoes, 1 cucumber, 1 onion, and 1 red pepper. Then put all the chopped up veggies in a food processor/blender with some water, 3 tbsp olive oil, S+P, and hot sauce. I also added in some basil and mint leaves to give it an extra bit of flavour, but there are a ton of different spice combinations you could try to make it your own. Blend until it reaches the desired consistency. Chill in the fridge and serve with some ice cubes. This recipe makes about 4 servings. The soup was really refreshing and works well paired with a yummy salad or sandwich (we made cubanos). No cooking or hot stove required – definitely what I call the perfect summer recipe!


Made at Home: Rhubarb Loaf

Rhubarb is a hardy plant that, in my experience, practically grows itself. The catch is its extremely bitter taste, which people often cut with strawberries in jams and crumbles. When my parents brought me a bunch last week, I wanted to try something new. My search turned up this recipe for a rhubarb nut loaf. The recipe was surprisingly simple, even though I had to make a few substitutions: milk + lemon juice for buttermilk, and walnuts for pecans. I also baked for only 60 minutes at a lower temperature, because I’m pretty sure our oven runs very hot. The result was pretty delicious, and you could easily omit the icing if you’ve got calories on the brain. So, if you ever find yourself with a rhubarb problem, I’ve got your rhubarb solution.


Made at Home: Pineapple Basil Caesar and Tiramisu

Today’s post is the quintessential bar and bean. We put these together after strokes of inspiration and/or motivation from two unlikely places. Katie’s concoction, a pineapple basil caesar, comes from the bar. After seeing Clint Pattemore hype his book on the only television channel we currently pick up, Katie was inspired to mix one up. This one was only named on the show, but we found a recipe and Katie pulled it off beautifully. My dish is a product of the bean, the coffee bean to be exact. Lady fingers were on sale this week (sometimes that’s all it takes) and I finally had to try the Italian dessert: tiramisu. This one was actually easier than I expected; I cobbled together a recipe based on the ingredients we had, and the result was the perfect combination of coffee-soaked cake and rich, cheesy cream.


Made at Home: Veggie Skewers

We’re all about easy, tasty food here at the bar and bean. And what could be easier and tastier than skewers? At your next BBQ try ditching the hamburger for this delicious veggie option. Take a few bamboo skewers and pierce on some cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, pressed (extra firm) tofu cubes, green pepper, red onion, and baby potatoes (microwave the potatoes a few minutes in the microwave first to ensure they cook all the way through). Then generously brush on some BBQ sauce to coat and place on the grill. While you’re at it, throw some corn on the cob (still in its husk) on there too. The resulting dinner will be so good you’ll be wishing you could grill all year round.