Jam and Dog Shows

Strawberry Jam and Fresh Corn Muffins

Strawberry Jam and Fresh Corn Muffins. See the sticker on the small jar? I bought 2 dozen of these for .5 cents each at a garage sale this spring.

So, I was sitting around, whining about the fact that, while Leah and Luke are out doing all kinds of fun dog show stuff down in the states, I’m sitting here with no one to show. That’s when it occurred to me that I could show Delilah. And why not? She moves beautifully, she has a great head, and while her front is less than stellar, her over all structure is still definitely finishable. So, I decided to enter her in the Hamilton Kennel Club shows, which for some odd reason take place on June 25, 26 and 27th – that’s a Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I guess they were working on the theory that some businesses were closing the 26th in honor of Canada Day, which is actually July 2st. Or something. Either way, enter we did, only to hear a lot of whining from Sean about how he’d been away for twelve days, and there I was, on almost the only day off we’d be sharing together, trotting off to a dog show.

Fine, so I’d skip Thursday, and just enter her on Saturday and Sunday. That wasn’t much better – more whining about how much stuff we really needed to get caught up on around the house, and what about grocery shopping? And lawn mowing? And were we ever going to swim together in the pool?

Fine. I skipped Friday, even after I’d paid for and entered the show. I’d just go Saturday – that’s today – instead. That’s where Delilah came in – last night, she’s outside peeing, and I notice blood on the ground. Of course she’s bleeding – the one thing that you just don’t do is bring a bitch who’s in season to a dog show, so naturally Delilah would wait until the night before the only dog show I have concrete plans to take her to and she’d start bleeding now. Not next week, now.

This morning, after a nice leisurely sleep in, I get up, check Delilah’s bottom, and discover – nothing. No blood to be seen. I know I wasn’t hallucinating – there’s still some blood stains on the back patio. I can only assume she has a low level bladder infection, which would have in no way stopped me from bringing her to the show today.

Personally, I suspect this was all a plot on Delilah’s part. She’d heard the weather for this weekend, and said to herself “Walk around outside, in the rain? For nothing but a measly piece of liver? You’ve got to be joking”.

So, I spent this morning finishing off the last batch of strawberry jam, baking corn muffins and making semolina pizza dough. Delilah and Bunny ate bits of muffin off of the floor, and traded smug looks with one another on how remarkably easy it is to get humans to do your bidding.

The jam and the muffins turned out quite nicely. The pizza dough will be turned into Stromboli for tonight’s dinner – sausage, mushroom, peppers, fresh mozzarella and home made tomato sauce.

I guess that probably does beat standing around at a dog show in the rain.

updated: while I was writing this, Andrea phoned to tell me that Luke took Winners Dog and Best of Winners today in Valparaiso IN for a 4 pt major! Go Luke!

Baking Brioche the Ghetto Fabulous Way

I had the sudden urge last weekend for a real loaf of pain au chocolat – something which I can’t recall ever having when I actually lived within walking distance of fabulous bakeries who baked theirs up daily. Now, of course, I live in the middle of no where, and the closest bakery is the one in the grocery store that does Cake Wrecks quality masterpieces and dried out loaves of faux Italian bread. If I wanted pain au chocolat, I was going to have to bake some.

I used the delicious – and simple! – recipe I found on La Tartine Gourmande.

The Simplest Brioche (1 loaf, mold 10 ” long)

You need:

  • 8 3/4 oz (1 2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 oz butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 dose dry baker’s yeast (1 Tbsp)
  • 2 Tbsp fine sugar
  • 1/3 cup warm milk
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 egg yolk for glaze


  • In a bowl, mix the flour with the yeast, make a hole in the middle.
  • Add the warm milk mixing with the tip of your fingers (if using a stand mixer, pour the milk slowly and steadily while mixing, with the hook attachment.)
  • Add the sugar and a pinch of salt, then add the soft butter, piece after piece, waiting each time that each piece is asborbed.
  • Then one by one, add the eggs, mixing well between each. Work the dough until it is elastic and detaches from your fingers more easily (or from the bowl of the stand mixer).
  • Cover and let rest in a warm place, away from drafts, for two hours, until it doubles in size.
  • Work the dough again for 10 min and divide it in four balls. Place them in a greased rectangular mold and cover. Let rise for an hour again.
  • Preheat the oven at 400 F.
  • Brush the brioche with the egg yolk mixed with a dash of sugar. With a pair of scissors, make small cuts at the top of each ball.
  • Place in the oven to bake for 10 min then reduce the heat to 350 F and bake for about 20 to 30 min.
  • Remove, unmold and let cool on a rack.

I made a few changes, however, first of which is that I also made a ganache  – a ghetto ganache, no less.

Most ganache recipes insist that unless you use top quality, $200 per ounce Varhlona Chocolate, you are going to gourmet hell, where are the meals come from Arby’s, and all the chocolate is actually ‘chocolate flavored candy’.  Since I didn’t have $200 to spend on chocolate, and wouldn’t have been able to find any even if I did, I instead did what any self respecting frugal gourmet would do, and hit the dollar store. There, I found imported bars of pure Dutch chocolate with an 80% cocoa rate – and yes, for a dollar. I snagged three of them, along with some handy slide lock freezer bags for this weekend’s upcoming project (code name: Towering Stank Clouds).

My ganache recipe is as follows:

  • 8 ounces (227 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy whipping cream (I actually just used 18% table cream, because it’s what I had in the house)
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter (I used margarine, because this is ghetto ganache)
  • 1 tablespoons cognac or brandy (optional, but you know I added some – in this case, more of the infamous and still unidentified Godiva Chocolate Liquer, which is coming in very handy on baking days)


  • Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth. If desired, add the liqueur.

To create the pain au chocolate, I took the worked dough and rolled it out into a rectangle. I then spread the ganache across the rectangle, leaving a 1/2 margin around the ganache. I then rolled up the rectangle, pinching off the edges as I went, and shaped it into a tube roughly the dimensions of my loaf pan. I then left it to rise.

Here’s the finished product:

Pain Au Chocolat

Since I had some left over dough and ganache, but not enough to make an entire second loaf,  I formed the dough into balls, filled them with ganache, and tossed them in a muffin tin to rise.

Voila, chocolate filled brioche!

Chocolate Filled Brioche

I glazed them with egg wash, and sprinkled them with granulated sugar, and baked for about 35 minutes at 350 F.

They turned out quite nicely – the ganache was warm and oozing out of the bread, and the smell was unbelievably gorgeous.

Pain au Chocolat

It didn’t stick around long.. in fact, not even long enough for me to get a picture of the sliced loaf!