Tuesday, 30 September 2008

TWD - Creme Brulee

Tuesday is the sweetest day.

For this week's Tuesdays with Dorie, Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake chose Creme Brulee on page 393 of the bestest baking book ever - Baking: From my home to yours.

Now, if ever there was a dessert designed to get that certain someone to fall in love with you all over again - this is it. Luscious and creamy inside and a hard caramel coating. What is not to like?

We love creme brulee, and I do own my own torch just for this one task. "One second dear, Mommy has to set fire to dessert."

I thought that this was a great recipe. I got to use my new shallow creme brulee ramekins (thanks honey!) so that I could achieve perfect custard to crust ratio. The recipe has you cooking the custard low and slow - not needing a bain marie or any other finicky steps. Pop them in the fridge for a few hours, top with sugar and light 'em up before serving. You look like a hero and nobody knows how easy there were to make.

Please see Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake's website for the full recipe and click here for the blogroll.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Cupcake Hero - Kahlua Cupcakes with Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Am I the next Cupcake Hero? Not likely. Not compared to the amazingly talented crew at Cupcake Hero. But that does not stop me from baking cupcakes!

Cupcakes are the perfect to-go cake and half of this batch is on it's way to the city as we speak.

I made these for my teenage son - they are the perfect combination of chocolate, coffee and liqueur. I topped each off with a chocolate coated caramel ball, just for badness.

These are very rich and very good. Give 'em a try!

Kahlua Cupcakes - 125 Best Cupcake Recipes, Julie Hasson

Preheat oven to 350f.
Line one regular 12 cup cupcake pan with paper liners

1 cup a.p. flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
Pinch salt
1/3 cup Kahlua
2 tsp instant coffee granules
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 egg whites
1/3 cup buttermilk

1. In a small bowl, mix together first 4 ingredients.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together Kahlua and instant coffee.
3. In a larger bowl, using electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1/3 flour mixture, mix. Add buttermilk mixture, mix. Add 1/3 flour mixture, mix. Add Kahlua mixture, mix. Add last of flour mixture, mix until smooth.
4. Scoop batter into prepared pans, bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely and frost.

For mini cupcakes, reduce time to 15+ minutes, until cake tester comes out clean.

This is the cupcake brooding band album cover shot.

Kahlua Chocolate Fudge Frosting

1 1/2 cups icing sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tbsp Kahlua
pinch salt

Process in food processor or stand mixer until combined. Add more Kahlua a few drops at a time if needed.

Frost cool cupcakes.

No chocolate cupcakes for puppies!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

The Daring Bakers Rock the Flatbread

One of the great things about the Daring Bakers is that there is a large population of folk who have specialized diets. There is so much support for gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan and many other dietary restrictions and choices that that alone would be a great reason for joining this great (and enormous) group.

This month's Daring Baker challenge is Lavash, an Armenian flatbread. The flatbread is to be paired with a vegan dip or spread as the hosts this month are vegan; Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl. Options to go gluten-free were provided as well, but I went with the classic recipe.

I am a huge fan of Peter Reinhart and have a copy of the Bread Baker's Apprentice, it is a great bread book - as are his others. I worked from the book and realized after that I had forgotten to take one piece of advice from the Daring Bakers. If you rolled the dough out in two pieces it will roll flatter. I did one large piece and it did puff up around the edges. The taste was still wonderful though and I used all of the recommended seasonings - cumin, caraway, poppyseeds, sesame seeds, kosher salt, and paprika. Next time I would season it even more - and add cracked black pepper.

One tip that I have for anyone rolling out something very thin that they have to move after - tape a large piece of parchment paper down onto your counter with painter's tape. The paper should be at least one inch larger than how big the dough will roll out to be - on each edge. When it is rolled out to desired thickness and size - cut away the excess paper and transfer the whole thing to the baking sheet or stone. The painter's tape will be easy to remove from the counter and can be tossed along with the trimmed edges of the parchment paper.

To go with the flatbread, I had made salsa this year from Small Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp. I am very proud as this is the first time I have done any canning.

Fiery Yellow Pepper Salsa - I didn't find it too hot, more lime-flavoured - I labeled it as I thought it tasted: Lime Red Pepper Salsa.

2 cups chopped sweet yellow pepper (I used red)
2 cups chopped peeled ripe tomatoes (I don't peel tomatoes, mine are so small)
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup finely chopped hot yellow pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeno pepper
2 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup lime juice (bottled)
2 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp pickling salt
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro

1. Combine everything except cilantro in a medium stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, for about 15 minutes or until mixture is thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in cilantro and cook for 2 minutes.

2. Remove hot jars from canner and ladle salsa into jars to within 1/2 half of rim. Process 20 minutes for half-pin and pint jars.

Check out the Daring Bakers blogroll to see how the other members rocked the flatbread.

Friday, 26 September 2008

My Kitchen, My World - India

This week in My Kitchen, My World Aunt Lolo of the Chow Review chose India. This was perfect for us as Indian cuisine is one of my go-to dinners for my vegetarian daughter. Plus, there is the added benefit of the whole home smelling like wonderful spices.

I decided to make a curry from a book on my bookshelf - Indian: Shortcuts to Success by Das Sreeharan.

Spicy Eggs with Eggplant and Spinach

6 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
4 tbsp vegetable oil
3 onions, peeled and sliced lengthwise
3 medium-hot green chili peppers, minced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
few curry leaves
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp hot chili powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
3 tomatoes, finely sliced
4 baby eggplants, quartered
1 cup baby spinach leaves
sea salt

Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok. Add the onions, chilies, garlic, ginger, and curry leaves, and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until the onions are soft. Add the tomato paste, ground coriander, turmeric, chili powder, garam masala, and a little salt. Cook, stirring, for one minute.

Add the tomatoes, eggplants, and spinach leaves. Cover and cook, stirring from time to time, for 6-7 minutes or until the sauce has blended well with the eggplants and spinach.

Add the hard-boiled eggs to the pan and let them heat through gently in the sauce for about 5 minutes before serving.

My changes - I added more spices and salt, so adjust to your own taste. My eggplant needed longer to cook, but that was fine. I sliced the eggs in half - which was very good. I have never made a curry with hard boiled eggs in it and we all agreed that it was very tasty.

Served with - vegetable basmati rice, lentil dal, and malabar parathas (bread). Oh, don't forget an nice jar of mango pickle or lime pickle with your dinner - Patak's is wonderful. And hot!

Normally there would be a yogurt dish as a tongue cooler but my daughter is lactose intolerant and, as I made this dinner especially for her, I left it out.

Check out My Kitchen, My World to see how the others did or to join in the fun of cooking from all around the world.

I just woke up to say Hi! to Megan and Melissa, who miss me.

Cookie Carnival - Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies

September's cookie on the Cookie Carnival is Martha Stewart's Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies. I have never made sandwich cookies before - not counting sticking a scoop of ice cream between two leftover oatmeal cookies, so I was happy to try something new.
I am a grapefruit lover and was pleased with the choice.

The results? Well, I think that the cookies need to be baked for a shorter time. I pulled mine out about 2 minutes early and they were still a little crunchy for this application. And the filling tasted more like icing sugar than grapefruit, in my opinion. Otherwise they were pretty good.

Hubby, on the other hand, greatly enjoyed them. (and that's what matters isn't it?)

My target audience is happy, the project is successful.

Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies - Martha Stewart

You can bake the cookies and make the filling a day ahead.

Ingredients for cookies
Makes 15 sandwich cookies.
* Grated zest of 1 Ruby Red grapefruit, plus 1/4 cup freshly squeezed juice
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
* 3/4 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
* 2 large egg yolks
* Pink Grapefruit Cream Filling

Remember to hire a guard dog to protect the cookies.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a small bowl, combine zest with 1 tablespoon sugar; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and remaining sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add egg yolks, and beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in reserved zest-sugar mixture. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the juice, and beat to combine.

3. Turn out dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, and shape into a 1-inch-thick disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

4. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out disk to 1/8 inch thick using a lightly floured rolling pin. Using a lightly floured 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds and place about 1 inch apart on prepared sheet. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until edges are golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes. Transfer parchment paper and cookies to rack to cool completely.

5. Using an offset spatula, spread 1 tablespoon filling onto flat sides of half the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, keeping flat sides down. Once filled, cookies can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Ingredients for filling
Makes enough to fill 15 sandwich cookies.
* 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
* 2 cups confectioners' sugar
* 1 tablespoon honey
* 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed Ruby Red grapefruit juice

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in honey. Add juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, until filling holds together and is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and set aside until ready to use.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

Ok, before we get to the soup, I have a message for my girl Ina. Let your man get his boat. Honestly, he is not getting any younger and he really wants one. You guys can afford to have it taken care of. The house is paid off, you are both successful. I am sure that he would get you whatever you wanted. The man wants a boat. Ok. On to the soup.

This week in Barefoot Blogging, Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup was chosen by Chelle of Brown Eyed Baker. The recipe can also be found in Barefoot Contessa at Home, page 48.

Well, you can't go too wrong with cream of mushroom soup, can you? Yes, this is a feel-good soup with lots of butter and cream. You don't want to have it every day, but, goodness is it tasty.

I made it the other night and made a fougasse from Dough: Simple Contemporary Bread to go with it. This is the first time that I have made fougasse and it is a bit like a cross between breadsticks and focaccia. It was very nice with the soup!
I could not find shiitakes or porcinis so I was a little light on the mushrooms (12oz rather than 150z), I added one chopped baby zucchini to make up for it. It blended in very nicely.

5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
5 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms
5 ounces fresh cremini (or porcini) mushrooms
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 carrot, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don't wash them! Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if there are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot.

This was a family pleaser, nothing says loving like the classics done well. Ina has never let me down.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Whisk Wednesdays- Braises and Marinades.

Whisk Wednesdays—Éstouffade de Boeuf Provençale (Braised Beef Casserole, Provence Style) - whisk: a food blog.

I made this dish last Wednesday evening, and finished so close to midnight that I decided to wait and post it this week. This is just as well as I have not been able to find the veal for this week's dish anyway. If I don't find it by the weekend, I will either use another meat or just go on to the next dish.

The search for veal reminded me of our search earlier this summer for osso bucco. Hubby expressed a desire to try this dish, having noted a recipe in one of Mario Batali's books. Always happy for a request in the kitchen, I set about finding the osso bucco. We went to about 6 different grocers, the last of which told me that I wasn't supposed to make this dish in the summer. (!) Um, if my man - who works crazy long hours every day - asks to try one measly meal, I am going to do my best to make it. Who cares what season it is? I know plenty of people who will have chili at least once in the summer - they managed to live to tell about it. I could not believe that a butcher in Canada, in this day and age, would tell me what I am allowed to cook and when. Next thing he'll be telling me not to wear white after labour day.

The Braised Beef.

The beef roast - an inexpensive cut - is marinated at least overnight in a marinade of red wine and aromatics. Blessedly, the marinade is kept and used for a sauce, rather than discarded like so much of the ingredients in this French technique cookbook. The next day the roast is drained, seared and slow cooked in the reserved marinade plus tomatoes. The book is a little ambiguous as it has you preheating the oven and then seems to be instructing you to simmer the beef stovetop. No matter, I did it in the oven at a lower temperature than it called for.

The beef turned out beautifully, fall apart tender. The sauce was ok, I found it a bit mild but I like big flavour. The point was to demonstrate the benefits of time in a marinade and slow cooking method to tenderize a cheap, tough cut of meat. This was accomplished beautifully and I now feel confident to recreate this recipe to my own tastes. Please click on the link above to see the recipe and information on this dish.

I know that these pictures are less than beautiful, it was very late when we took them and the lighting was dim - even with the handy desk light. So I included a pic of Bella - for beauty's sake. She is on her favourite spot - the end of my daughter's bed on a very comfy blankie.

Whisk Wednesdays is an at home culinary learning community following Le Cordon Bleu at Home and organized by Whisk: a food blog. Check out Whisk for instructions on the dish, the blogroll and to find out how you can play along.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

TWD - Dimply Plum Cake

Tuesday is the sweetest day.

This week in Tuesdays with Dorie, Michelle of Bake-en selected Dimply Plum Cake on page 41. The recipe can be found on her site.
In case you have been living in an experimental ecopod or otherwise incarcerated, I am talking about page 41 of Dorie Greenspan's wonderful baking guide, Baking: From My Home to Yours. Don't have it? Get it. 'Nuff said.

I fell in love with plum cakes earlier this year when my lady Martha published one. Now hear me out. Plums are a risk. Go to the nearest megamart and shell out good money for a bag of them and you don't know what you'll get. Tart, mealy, unripe, too ripe. They don't just mellow out like bananas, plums can be a heartbreak. Enter the plum cake, the great plum equalizer. Press those babies down in a nice batter and tuck them into the oven. Sometime later you have tender, juicy plummy goodness. Heavenly.

Dorie puts her own spin on this classic cake by flavouring it with orange zest and cardamom. A pleasing flavour combo that I came across a couple of months ago with the Daring Bakers' Danish Braid. How does it match with said plumminess? Just perfectly, that's how.

To make this plum cake easily transportable for my two commuters, I baked it muffin style in a Texas sized muffin tin. My plums were very large, had they been little I would probably have used the regular sized tin. The extra large tins made 10 muffins with this recipe.

This is a great recipe. Definitely in the top 5 so far. Check out the blogroll to see how the others fared.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Curried Cauliflower Soup with Coriander Chutney

I admit, I am getting a little excited about fall. I like the transitional months. Every day is a surprise as the world makes up it's mind about the weather. I love the changing leaves, the cool nights, and of course - fall foods. Soups, stews, roasts and curries. They just welcome you home with love and warmth.

The air conditioning is off, the mosquitoes are gone away and my home smells wonderfully of spices.

Tonight's dinner comes by way of the enormous cauliflower that we bought the other day at a farm stand. Hubby, spotting a good deal, exclaimed "Look at the size of them!" and "They are charging per item and not per pound!" So he grabbed the biggest one. I still have half of it left after this recipe, it really was huge.

The flavour of cauliflower is brought to it's sweetest best by roasting, and this recipe takes advantage of that. This is a great, simple, weeknight meal. It makes 3 generous bowls or 4 polite ones. I upped the spices when I made it but have printed them as they originally were. Season to your own taste.

Curried Cauliflower Soup with Coriander Chutney - From LCBO Food and Drink, Autumn 2008

1 medium head cauliflower, about 7 cups of florets
1/4 cup vegetable oil
salt to taste
1 cup chopped onions
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp curry paste or 2 tsp curry powder
4 cups chicken stock
2 tsp lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450f.
2. Cut cauliflower into florets. Toss cauliflower with 2 tbsp oil. Season with salt and put on baking sheet and roast, shaking occasionally, for 15 or 20 minutes, or until tender and browned.
3. Heat remaining 2 tbsp oil in soup pot. Add onions. Saute one minute, add garlic, ginger, and curry. Toss together and saute one minute. Add roasted cauliflower and toss to coat. Pour in stock and bring to boil. Reduce to low and simmer 15 minutes. Add lemon juice.
4. Puree soup in blender or with a mixing wand. (I like to keep half chunky.) Adjust seasonings to taste.
5. Garnish with coriander chutney.

Coriander Chutney

1 cup coriander leaves
1/2 cup coriander stems
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1 minced jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup plain yogurt ( I left it out, only because I was out of yogurt)
salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine 1st 7 ingredients in mortar and pestle or food processor. Stir in yogurt, season with salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe is for Magazine Mondays, an event hosted by Cream Puffs in Venice. She may even have more magazines than I do! Check out her site for some of the most amazing treats you have ever seen.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Iron Cupcake Basil

If I thought I was a little fish in a big pond before - I may have accidentally drifted into the rapids. I have no business competing with the amazing talent in Iron Cupcake, but you know how I am. I can't resist playing along.

This month's theme ingredient is Basil. Funny for a cupcake, I'll give you that, but I like basil. I have 6 different kinds of it growing on my deck.

At first I was considering mixing and matching my basil but I thought that the differences would be too subtle to discern, so I went with a theme. Thai Garden.

The cupcakes are Thai Basil Carrot and Zucchini. The icing is a Thai Basil Lemongrass Cream Cheese. Oh yeah, they're good.

Thai Basil Carrot and Zucchini Cupcakes - Adapted from 125 Best Cupcake Recipes, Julie Hasson.

Preheat oven to 350f.
Line one regular 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 heaping tablespoon minced fresh Thai Basil
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs

1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup shredded zucchini

1/3 cup milk

1. In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients.
2. In large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and butter until smooth. Switch to spatula and add in shredded carrot and zucchini. Combine well.
3. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients in 3 parts, pouring milk in 2 parts between additions.
4. Scoop into muffin pans and bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool and ice.

Thai Basil Lemongrass Cream Cheese Icing - click here for cream cheese icing recipe.

I was fortunate enough to come across a package of powdered lemongrass so I added some, as well as some purple Thai basil flowers, to a basic cream cheese icing.

Voting begins on Sunday, September 28th at noon at No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner. Please vote for whichever cupcake fancies your tickle.

A big thank-you to the sponsors of Iron Cupcake -

ETSY artist METAL SUGAR, as well as to our corporate sponsors HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS , HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, JESSIE STEELE APRONS CUPCAKE COURIER and TASTE OF HOME. These fine folks provide the groovy cupcake themed prizes for Iron Cupcake.