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Fall colours Canadian Style sourdough pizza · 16 October 2016 by colin newell

Rustic Pizza from Andrea and Colin

At this time of the Fall, Andrea and I start looking forward to some rustic cooking; soups, stews and, yes, the occasional treat of pizza with seasonal ingredients. And since I have a sourdough starter that has been on the go since 2008, what better opportunity than right now to whip up a great pizza dough and accompanying pizza. Here goes:

Andrea and Colin’s simple Sourdough Pizza


1 cup sourdough starter, unfed or not at room temperature
1/2 cup warm tap water
2 1/2 cups Caputo 00 Pizza Flour *
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon active dry yeast

A word about Captuo “00” Bread Flour: It is the gold standard of pizza flours by which most others are judged, but there’s quite a bit of confusion as to exactly what it is. You’ll read in countless sources that Italian Tipo “00” flour, like the Caputo, is a “soft wheat flour,” with a low protein content. Caputo 00 flour is ideal for pizza dough for two reasons: one, it’s finely ground, and two, it has a lower gluten content than most flours.

The “00” refers to the texture of the flour: Italian flours are classified by numbers according to how finely they are ground, from the roughest ground “tipo“1, to 0, and the finest 00. Gluten, the natural protein that remains when starch is removed from wheat grains, creates the elasticity you feel when you bite into a crunchy loaf of bread. The lower the protein content of the flour, the lower the gluten, and the lower the gluten, the less elasticity there will be in your dough (cake flour has the lowest gluten level).


In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a hook attachment, combine all ingredients. Mix on medium low until all ingredients are incorporated and you have a firm ball. If dough is still very sticky, add about 1/8 cup of flour at a time until dough is firm. Your dough may be wetter than expected based on how wet your starter is. Don’t worry, just add more flour.

Remove dough from bowl and transfer to a lightly floured surface.

Kneed by hand for about 1 – 2 minutes, then form into a ball.

Place the dough ball in a medium mixing bowl that has been coated in olive oil or cooking spray. Lightly toss the dough ball in the bowl to coat in oil/spray.

Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel. Place covered bowl in a warm area for 2 hours or until about doubled in size.

You can make this pizza dough ahead of time and keep in fridge for 1 or 2 days.

Transfer risen dough to a lightly floured surface. Roll out with rolling pin or spread with your knuckles to desired crust thickness.

Transfer dough to a pizza peel, if baking on a pizza stone, or onto a pizza pan or baking tray.

Top with sauce and favorite toppings.
In our case:

- Tomato sauce (by Jamie Oliver)
- Saute mushrooms and shallots
- Salami
- fresh mozzarella balls (from our local market, Root Cellar…)

Bake in a preheated 500 degree oven (or outdoor BBQ) for 7 to 10 minutes – until cheese is bubbly and crust is browning.
Enjoy your home made pizza!


Baking 101 Bernard Callebaut sticky chewy chocolate brownies · 31 August 2016 by colin newell

I just made this rich, dark chocolate brownie with a soft chewy center, firm edges and a crackly top. Simple to make using just one bowl. Pay attention to the measurements as they are the key to success.


  • ¾ cup Fry’s, Hershey’s or Dark Dutch cocoa
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ⅔ cup butter – melted
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 free range jumbo eggs
  • 1⅓ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup dark/medium Bernard Callebaut chocolate chips


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease a 9 by 13 baking pan.

Sticky chewy rich Bernard Callebaut Brownies

Add cocoa and baking soda to a large bowl and stir to combine.
Melt ⅔ of a cup of butter in your microwave. With a wooden spoon, stir ½ of the melted butter into the cocoa and baking soda. Stir until combined.

Add ½ cup of boiling water to bowl with cocoa and butter. Stir until combined and smooth.

Add sugar, eggs and the rest of the melted butter to the cocoa mixture. Stir until combined.

Sift in 1⅓ cup of flour. Add vanilla and salt. Stir until combined and batter is smooth.

Add chocolate chips to batter and stir until combined.
Pour into prepared baking pan and smooth the top out with a wooden spoon. Bake for between 35 and 40 minutes. Test with a toothpick for doneness.

Cool for 30 minutes in pan. When cool, remove from pan and cut into snack sized brownies.
Yield should be around 2 dozen.
Serve with ice cream while warm – or with black coffee. They are an addictive treat.
If you feel the urge to coat them with icing, wait until they are cool and use your imagination.
Alternately, one could swirl in peanut butter chips or raw peanut butter instead of the chocolate chips.

Colin Newell is a Victoria area resident and long time creative writer. A baker since the age of 12, he has been around the mixing bowl a time or two!


Food, drink and smoking Summer 2016 · 19 August 2016 by colin newell

Best smoking times

Having saved up for a house, back-yard and BBQ for going on 20 years, you can imagine my delight when all of this actually came true!

I now have the house and back yard and a very beat up but serviceable Weber Genesis 3-burner 300 series BBQ that is still cooking away (and over ten years of age…)

And in the first 60 days of living in our house, I BBQ’ed 45 nights! We just started our 3rd year in the house 1 month ago! Amazing. I am a better BBQ chef now but what kind of smoker am I?
Well, I am not a smoker at all – but I could aspire to be.

And if learning how to gas flame BBQ cook is one skill, then learning how to smoke meat is an entirely, ahem, different kettle of fish. But let’s discuss some basics.

Smoking meat to perfection requires much more finesse than many people are aware of. There are two distinct setups when it comes to the arrangement of a smoking system: the vertical setup, and the horizontal setup. In the vertical setup, the fire can be as low as the bottom level of the apparatus, separated from the meat at the top with water and smoking wood in the middle.

In the horizontal setup, the cooking chamber, water, meat, smoking agents, and firebox are all connected. Of course, it is also possible to achieve good smoking results simply by using a regular grill. The source of heat for completing the smoking process can be achieved with a number of different agents, including wood, steam, electricity, gas, and charcoal.

The greatest challenge in being able to achieve a consistent temperature throughout the meat is to be able to maintain a constant, healthy flow of smoke. Generally speaking, those who are new to the art of smoking meat will be best-suited with an electric smoking apparatus.

Generally speaking, indirectly seating through smoking is a method adopted for larger pieces of meat. Naturally, different cuts of meat will have a different amount of time that will be most ideal for dispersing the heat of the smoke across the full surface area and throughout the entire cut.

The attached graphic gives you a great idea how different meats or proteins respond to smoke – or in other words, “when they are done…” It was a neat graphic to look at and the attached image prints well – so use it freely and learn a bit more about “smoking” – smoking of the healthy kind that is!

What you can do is open up the graphic by clicking on it and then right clicking it to save to your desk top.

Or (and this should work better…) Click on this – smoking-times-and-temperature.jpg

Now I need to get out some of those hickory wood chips I have kicking around!

Apologies in advance to my lovely Vegan and Vegetarian friends.

Colin Newell has been writing this blog for over 20 years and you will notice the absence of junk content, click bait, promo links and other rubbish. We are better than that and everyone should demand better content!


Summer Cooking 2016 Chapter 1 Butter Chicken · 8 May 2016 by colin newell

I am a huge curry fan – the hotter the better. This is a very easy recipe to build – and you can heat it up or cool it off however you see fit.

1 cup plain yoghurt Greek style High fat content
2 TBL lemon juice
2 TSP Tumeric powder
4 TSP Garam Masala
1 TBL chili powder (ground dried chili powder)
2 TSP ground cumin
2 TBL fresh grated ginger
5 garlic cloves crushed
1500g chicken thigh filet cut into bite sized pieces

2 TBL vegetable oil
2 minced shallots
2 cups tomato passata (tomato sauce in a glass jar)
2 TBL sugar
2.5 TSP salt
2 cups half/half cream

a.) Combine the marinade ingredients with the chicken in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
b.) Heat the vegetable oil over high heat in a frying pan – (we use a dutch oven)
c.) Add 2 Minced shallots to the frying pan and cook about 2 minutes.
d.) Add the chicken coated in the marinade and cook for around 3 minutes or until the chicken is while all over.
e.) Add the tomato passata, sugar and salt to the mix – turn down heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
f.) Do a taste test to see if it needs more salt.
g.) Add the cream to the mixture – mix to combine – then remove from heat.

Garnish with cilantro leaves – serve with basmati rice.


Flour and water - be food sufficient - our bread series chapter 1 · 25 April 2016 by colin newell

Sourdough bread by the numbers

When I was a kid and in a farm house of five, my mother probably made 6 to 12 loaves of bread every week – depending on time of year and demand.

She made all of our breads by hand, with flour and water, salt and yeast – sometimes with extras like cheese, spices and herbs – sometimes with flours other than whole wheat or white bread.

It was something that a lot of people did in the 60’s and 70’s – especially if they were on a tight budget. And our house was no exception. And since we had a country kitchen with an old hybrid wood and gas stove it just made sense. The baking also helped heat the house to it was economics 101 at work.

My roll in all of this was picking up 20 Lb bags of flour and running them from the grocery store the 2.5 km home on my bike… which had a big basket on it. Imagine a 20 Lb bag of flour and other dry goods – that was a very, very full basket. I must have made that run 100 times over the years and I never once spilled a grain of flour.

In the kitchen I got to watch – and watch. And watch again. Maybe I got to get some warm water or take the temperature of some water or open the jar of powdered yeast. It was a very rare event indeed if I actually got to stick my hands in the mix. And this was an “all hands” process. There was no commercial mixer. There was no Kitchen Aid machine with the bread hook that I use today. It was all hands, instinct only, physical memory and repetition.

Perhaps ironically, I did get to suggest recipes and flavours for bread. I kid you not. My mother would ask a 12 year old (me) what kind of bread I would find interesting. And as it would turn out, the darker and denser the bread the better. We started simply enough with a medium rye bread. And over time, the breads got darker and darker until, I think, we invented something that my mother called a “Russian black bread…” I am not sure where the ethnicity or the colour came in but it was among the darkest and tastiest of breads I have ever had in my life. It was dark brown, complex, spicy, sweet, chewy and dense all in the same bite – and because it went through a double or triple raise and proof process, the ferment allowed for a very nutritional development of the loaf – that is to say, you could easily live off of this bread for a very long time.

In this upcoming series of blogs I am going to reveal the re-introduction of bread into my life and how I have come to depend on my instincts more than the strict discipline of recipes.


Cajun Oyster Jambalaya - a slight variation · 13 January 2016 by colin newell

I love the complex, sometimes rich and exotic flavours of Cajun cooking. Unique to Louisiana, it features French, African, Spanish and Native American influences – depending on liberal application of regional spice blends and with the availability of wonderful fresh shell fish these dishes really shine!

Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: About 70 minutes

Makes: 8 servings

Cooking Cajun in the Blenkinsop Valley

1/2 lb. fresh dry andouille sausages, about 2 to 3 depending on size

3 Tbsp Canola oil (approx)

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes

6 tsp homemade Cajun spice (divided; see Note 1 below)

1 large onion, finely diced

4 celery ribs, finely diced

1 medium green bell pepper, finely diced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, finely diced
1 Poblano chile, 2 Jalapeno chile, 2 Serrano chile, 1 Habanero chile and
2 Thai red chiles

2 cups Jasmine rice

4 cups low salt chicken stock

2 bay leaves

• salt to taste

12 large prawns – peeled with tail portion left intact, and deveined (see Note 2 below)
Alternately – 2 standard tubs of fresh Oysters (chopped in 4’s)

Heat oil in Dutch oven or wide pot set over medium-high.
Add the chicken and sprinkle with 1 1/2 tsp of the Cajun spice.
Cook and stir until the chicken is cooked through and nicely coloured, about five to seven minutes.
Lift the chicken out of the pot with a slotted spoon and set in a bowl.

Lower the heat under the pot to medium. And the onion, celery and pepper assortment and cook until very tender and slightly caramelized, about six minutes.

Note – you can dial back on the Habanero and Thai chiles to dial back the heat — because these two kick it up a big notch!

Mix in the rice and remaining Cajun spice and cook, stirring occasionally, for two minutes more.

Mix in the stock, bay leaves, sliced sausage and chicken.

Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. When boiling, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the rice is almost tender, about 18 minutes.

Nestle the prawns or oysters into the top of the rice and cover and cook five minutes, or until the prawns are cooked and the rice is tender. Serve.

Note 1: Cajun spice is available in the bottle herb and spice aisle of most supermarkets.

Cajun spice, in a small bowl combine 4 tsp paprika, 2 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried marjoram, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp cayenne pepper and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Use what you need for the recipe and save the rest for another time.

Note 2: To peel and devein a prawn, hold the tail of the prawn in one hand and slip the thumb of your other hand under the shell between its swimmerets (little legs). Pull off the shell, leaving the very bottom portion of the tail intact. Use a small paring knife to make a lengthwise slit along the back of the prawn. Pull out, or rinse out with cold water, the dark vein. Pat the prawns dry and they are ready to use.

Many thanks to Chef Eric Akis of the Times-Colonist newspaper for this inspiration!