Monday, January 17, 2011

Glazed Mini-Rounds

Ah prep bowls, I've missed you.

I think it's a good idea when you get to the end of this post if you scroll back up and see how pretty and organized I began this recipe. In fact it ended so messily and not yummy that I'm not even going to post the recipe. I doubt this will inspire anyone to try to make these buggers anyway.

I've never used my sifter/strainer so much in one recipe. I often skip sifting ingredients - I know, bad baker, bad! This icing sugar was pretty chunky looking so I gave it a go:

The recipe specifically said to make sure you smoothed the top of the cake batter prior to baking. I really thought I had, but looking back at this photo (and the final product) I'm beginning to think otherwise.

You see, this here, this isn't smooth.

After baking I was to cut the cake in half, smear with a (strained!) apricot jam and place the pieces back together again. Julia off-handedly told me to use my 1 inch circle cookie cutter. Yeah, I don't have one of those. My dear husband made a run up to Degrees to help me out. I told him before leaving that it didn't need to be more than an inch high because my cake would be cut in half. I forgot that I had to put the cake back together again before cutting out the circle shapes. So I had the brilliant idea to just cut out the circles on the halves separately and then stick them together. It sort of worked, sort of didn't. I think the main problem was the top of the cake was a little rough and firm, so I didn't achieve perfect circles.

Next up we melted a bunch of chocolate. First the white chocolate was turned into a glaze and poured over the little wee cakes.

Next I melted the dark chocolate and poured it into a Ziploc bag with a wee hole snipped in the end. This was my ghetto way of decorating, not the most accurate thing in the world. And holy crap, did you know that melted chocolate held in your fist is HOT? Because it is. You have to trust that my hand is burning in this photo.

This it the mess I made:

And this is the final product:

And those are glazed mini rounds. I don't know if I am the best judge, because I don't care for white chocolate - but these weren't that great. They tasted like pound cake coated in chocolate. But worse.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I Miss Julia

When I started this blog it was with Julia Child in mind. Tina started a group called "Baking Beauties" where we baked our way through the recipes in "Baking with Julia". I missed many challenges. Eventually the group slowly stopped participating as a whole. Recently for Christmas my brother and his girlfriend gave me a load of awesome baking supplies. Inspired by this gift I've decided I'm going to continue this challenge as a solo mission.

I've gone through the cookbook and made a list of the recipes. I've omitted anything that was a base dough or filling as they'll be tackled within larger recipes in the book. I've also ignored the Wedding Cake... because, seriously? I'm not making a wedding cake just for the fun of it. That's just crazypants.

In the end that leaves me with 128 recipes. I entered that list into and it spat me back a randomized list that I will now follow like gospel. Some of these recipes I've already completed back with the Baking Beauties. I won't be retrying those.

Let's get baking!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pasta

Sorry Michelle, you weren't the only one that did this recipe, I'm just even later than you were.

I halved the recipe and substituted cherry tomatoes for plum tomatoes. Otherwise this was pretty straight forward.

I love goat cheese, so this pasta was a winner for me. However, the onions totally make this dish. Wanna know what's not fun though? Cooking onions in boiling balsamic vinegar. My eyes were burning for hours.

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pasta
Adapted from "Bite Me"
makes: 3 servings

Caramelized Onions
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 large white onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
7 oz penne pasta
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup white wine
1 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
2 cups baby spinach, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 T finely diced sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 T chopped fresh basil
1/4 t kosher salt
1/4 t ground black pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled

  1. For the onions, in a large skillet, melt oil and butter over medium heat. Stir in onion, sugar and salt. Sauté 15-20 minutes. Stir in balsamic vinegar and cook until liquid has evaporated, this took me 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water cook pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Turn heat to high, stir in white whine and reduce for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add pasta, caramelized onions, tomatoes, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper, cooking for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat & stir in Parmesan. Plate dishes and top with goat cheese.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

TLT Salad

Thanks for letting me know this post disappeared Claudia, here it is again :)

I started this week's challenge a little negatively. I'm not sure I've ever followed a recipe for a salad before. Sure, I take tips on ingredients, but no measuring, no real direction following occurs when I make a salad.

This salad went something like this.




Throw it all in a bowl:

Toss with dressing, top with croutons and serve:

Okay, I skipped over the two things that actually took me any time in this recipe. The lovely dressing, simply mayo, basil & white wine vinegar. The homemade croutons. This is something my mother has perfected. Always made with stale bread, many seasonings and several glugs of oil. These were not those croutons. When I picked up the bread at the grocery store it was so fresh it was still warm. This made for a slight chew to the middle of the little bread cubes, which was actually quite nice.

The moment I ate this salad any lingering thoughts of "who needs a recipe for a salad?" disappeared. This salad is delicious. I don't know if it was the bacon or the dressing, but it was definitely one of the two. Having given up red meat for unknown reasons far too long ago to remember I often miss out on that bacon salad combo. This recipe called for turkey bacon, which added a lovely crunchy salt to this salad.

We paired this with some grilled fish for dinner, but that wasn't necessary - this could have been an entree all by itself.

TLT (The Larry T) Salad
Adapted from "Bite Me"
makes: 6 servings

1/2 mini baguette, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 T olive oil
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
1 tsp kosher salt
Creamy Basil Dressing
1/4 c light mayonnaise
1 T finely chopped fresh basil
1 T white wine vinegar
1 romaine heart, coarsely chopped or torn into bite-size pieces
1 c cherry tomatoes, halved
4 slices turkey bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 avocado peeled and chopped
  1. For the croutons, preheat the oven to 350F. Coat a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, toss bread crumbs with olive oil. Add Parmesan and salt, tossing to coat. Spread pieces on baking sheet and bake 15 minutes, stirring every 5.
  2. For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk mayo, basil and vinegar.
  3. In a large bowl combine the salad ingredients.
  4. Add dressing, toss to coat. Top with croutons.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Crunchy Tortilla Chicken with Avocado Dip

So the Baking Beauties are no longer baking. Sort of makes the title of this blog a little odd, but I'll get over it. We've moved on to the wonderful cookbook "Bite Me". I don't know how I'm going to stop myself from cooking from this every day. All the recipes look ah-maze-ing.

This week's challenge is "Crunchy Tortilla Chicken with Avocado Dip".

I only used two chicken breasts, since there are only two of us and not six. I only halved the rest of the recipe though, since it's a little easier on my brain.

Marinade tasted good all by itself. It would have made a lovely chip dip.

While that was marinating I made the breading. Since I don't have a proper food processor this is how I crush the tortilla chips.

This is the first breading I've ever done that involved jalapenos and cheddar. I'm pretty sure it won't be the last. However, I did feel a little weird doing this:

When this was looking at me from the window:

I didn't want to improvise too much on the first recipe, so jarred peppers it was. Here are all the ingredients together for the breading:

That previously mentioned lack of a proper food processor? Became a bit of a problem when the instructions for the avocado dip include the words "food processor". I have this little hand held one, and it mostly did the trick. We just had a few giant chunks of avocado within the dip. Which wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

Finished result:

I loved it, and so did Craig. It did have many of his favourite things in it: jalapeños, nacho chips & cheese.

Crunchy Tortilla Chicken with Avocado Dip
adapted from Bite Me

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3/4 c sour cream
1 T brown sugar
1 t chili powder
1/2 t chopped fresh thyme
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t fresh ground black epper
1/4 t garlic powder
1 c Panko bread crumbs
1 c crushed tortilla chips
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c jarred jalapeño peppers, dried off and chopped

Avocado Dip
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/2 c sour cream
2 ripe avocados, pitted and peeled
2 T fresh lime juice
1/4 t ground cumin
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

1. Pound chicken breasts to even thickness, about 1/2 inch thick
2. In a large cowl combine sour cream, brown sugar, chili powder, thyme, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add chicken, toss to coat, cover and marinate in the fridge for 2 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.
4. In a large bowl combine the remaining ingredients (minus the avocado dip). remove chicken from marinade and coat each piece with the breading mixture, pressing down so that it coats each piece well. Place on baking sheet and bake 20-23 minutes.
5. For the avocado dip combine the listed ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Serve alongside chicken.

Serves two, albeit with a lot of extra dip.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Earl Grey Ice Cream

So it's been a while, yes, yes. Tina announced a relaunch of Baking Beauties and it inspired me to write a post on my ice cream adventure today.

It all started because the nice folks at Culinarium gave us a container of fresh cream as a thanks for being "Milk Maid" customers.

I love green tea ice cream and chai ice cream, so I figured why not try Earl Grey ice cream!

A Google search basically brought up the same recipe over and over again. So without further ado, here's my attempt at Mac & Cheese's Earl Grey Ice Cream recipe.

First, I didn't follow the dairy guidelines. I used 1 cup of 48% fresh cream provided by Culinarium, 1 cup of skim milk and 1 cup of whipping cream.

This might not have been the best idea, but more on that later.

This cream that I used, this cream was thicker than sour cream. I held the container upside down for at least 30 seconds before anything came out. Then it looked like this:

I warmed it and steeped 5 tea bags off the heat for an hour.

I whisked 5 egg yolks and mixed the milk mixture into that bowl. Back on the heat, the direction was to keep stirring until it achieved a custard like consistency. I don't know if this is weird or not, but I don't really know what that means. I mean I've heard of custard, and I think I've had custard filled pastries, but I can't just imagine a custard consistency in my mind. So I don't know if I did this part correctly, but this is what I ended up with.

Throw it in the ice cream maker et voilà:

This tastes good, but I think I really shouldn't have used that heavy of a cream, even with the skim milk offset. A couple of bites, good. A bowl? It coats your mouth like you've been eating butter straight. Not that I know what that feels like.

All photos are iPhone created because I keep forgetting to charge my Rebel's battery.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Craig Cooks Chicken Wings

Ohhai blog. It's been a while. Sorry 'bout that.
So, several months ago Craig made chicken wings. From what I remember they were amazing. They also involved tossing the wings and transferring pans and things I'd never done whilst making chicken wings. Unfortunately since this was the end of the September that's all I really recall.
Nevertheless here is photographic proof that the wings existed.

Chicken Wings, Six Ways (though we just did one)
Adapted from "How to Cook Everything"
makes: 6-8 servings

1/4 c relatively mild hot sauce
4 T butter, melted
2 T white wine vinegar
1 T minced garlic
3 lbs chicken wings, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels, cut into 3 pieces each

2 T neutral oil
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the hot sauce, butter, vinegar, and garlic in a small bowl.
  2. Put the chicken wings in a large roasting pan, drizzling with the oil, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, then spread the wings out in a single layer. (it's okay if they're a little crowded, they'll shrink.) Put the wings in the oven and roast, undisturbed, until teh bottom of the pan is coated with fat and the wings are beginning to brown, about 30 minutes. Use a spoon to bast the wings with the drippings, then carefully pour them out of the pan. If the wings are still sticking to the bottom of the pan, return them to the oven until they release easily, another 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Turn the wings over, baste again, then carefully pour off any more fat. Return them to the oven until nicely browned, another 20 minutes or so (again, they'll release easily from teh pan when they're ready).
  4. Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Carefully pour off any accumulated fat, then drizzle the wings with the hot sauce mixture and toss to coat. Spread them back out into a single layer and return them to the oven. Cook, tossing once or twice, until crisp all over, about 10 more minutes.

Smoky Chile Lime Variation (which these were)
Omit the hot sauce, vinegar, and garlic and replace the butter and neutral oil with extra virgin olive oil. make the tossing sauce by combining the olive oil with 2 T freshly squeezed lime juice, 2 T chili powder and 1 T smoked paprika. Proceed with teh recipe, using this sauce to coat the wings in Step 3. Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro and serve with Avocado Yogurt Sauce.

Avocado Yogurt Sauce
1 cup yogurt
1 t minced garlic
salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly squeezed lemon juice if necessary
1/2 avocado

Combine the yogurt with garlic, a pinch of salt and a grinding or two of pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding some lemon juice if necessary. Stir in 1/2 a ripe avocado or more.