Sunday, November 1, 2009



Halloween treats... no tricks...!

Spiderweb cup cakes with cup cake truffle spiders... cupcake truffle bloody eyeballs and chocolate coating dipped witch fingers.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Macarons

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I made pumpkin pie spiced macarons... look...! I got feet!!! I was a bit worried and as you can see from the picture below, I had some issues with piping. It is not my strong suit... and after a blow out with the disposable bag I was using, well, I just put some blobs down on the parchment but those turned out rather well actually... (the small ones were actually piped...)

I filled mine with an Apple Butter Cream Cheese icing... they taste really good... nice crunch on the bite, chewy in the middle... As yummy as they are, I think I will have to defer to my favorite place to get them in Seattle... Honore Artisan Bakery, 1413 NW 70th StSeattle, WA 98117... they make much better Macaron's than I do... I love their lavander ones - they're filled with a lavander chocolate ganache...!




Saturday, October 3, 2009

Vols-au-Vent.... say what?

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.


I had some camera issues.... um... who remembered to get new batteries...? *blushes* So no pictures of the process other than baking...

My larger Vols-au-Vent were filled with BBQ Beef and topped with shredded cheese...


My smaller ones... which were fab... were filled with Key Lime flavored no bake Cheesecake and served with Whipped cream and Lime Zest...


Fun challenge... my arms have never been so sore but I will happily make them again...


Sunday, August 2, 2009

July daring bakers... better late than never...

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.





I swapped out sugar free chocolate chips in the filling and dipped the edges of a few in sprinkles...



And then shared them with Stitch... LOL He liked them a lot...






Friday, July 24, 2009

Vacation...

So I'm currently in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada... on vacation visiting my best friend. ;o)

So far, it's been quite the adventure.

The day I arrived... was nice... not too hot... not too cool... but just as night fell, the wind picked up and sent trees rolling through parking lots... brought down the canopy of one of the big downtown towers on someone... and the next day, lots and lots of trees were looking very worse for the wear.

But since then, it's been nice... got a sunburn yesterday... Rode the Mindbender at the West Ed Mall on Tuesday... Ate poutine for the first time on Sunday... Donair for the first time yesterday... and have discovered that dipping fries in gravy isn't really that strange of a thing after all.

I have been eating my way from Tim Horton's to the next Tim Hortons... it was the easiest thing to locate and program into my GPS for the way here. LOL I don't eat at all of them... seriously. But each and every A&W has become a running joke because that is my choice of on the road restroom and drink stop. At home, the only A&W's really left are a combo with KFC... and they put ice in the root beer! gasp... the horror... .I've long since forgotten the taste of an A&W in a frosty mug and I will happily admit to drinking regular root beer in these stops instead of Diet... but I guess that just helps because at least it's root beer so no caffiene.

I have had Ketchup flavored chips... caved in and purchased cookies by george... yummo! And have introduced my friend to Crystal light in tubs. Apparently they only come in big packets here. I have walked the entire mall at West Edmonton... up down and all around. LOL

It's been a great time and when I can reuinte with my computer and camera then I will make sure to post some pictures.

Oh... but for what I forgot to take pictures of... was my dinner at the Unheardof restaurant.

OHHHH!!!!

But more of that soon... I have a dish or two to try and recreate... ;o)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Well... it dawned on me that I've been very slow in posting what I've been up to... ;o)

How in the world could I have forgotten about my bread pudding? Sourdough Bread, dried cranberries, dark chocolate chips and almonds... it was yummy!

Then, recently... there were the sugar cookie beachballs for a beach themed work party...



and the lemon cake, lemon frosting cupcake bites for a friend's wedding - matching her wedding colors....


And... coming soon... what did I manage to do with these luscious Oregon Strawberries? mmmm... just like home, fresh picked, sun warmed... ?





Saturday, June 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Bakewell Tart/Pudding...

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.




Sweet shortcrust pastry
Prep time: 15-20 minutes

Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film
225g (8oz) all purpose flour

30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.
Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.
Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes


Frangipane

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula
125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.


Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.
When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.


My changes... I have a decided lack of almond extract around here so in both parts that needed it, I subbed coconut extract. Hence the coconut that was placed on top of the Tart... pudding instead. I also used coconut flour in the fragipane instead of the regular flour. I used a seedless organic blackberry preserve from Trader Joes...
My observation - 400 was too hot for this at least in my oven, it is a lot darker than I would think it should be. So therefore, sometime when I'm not rushing so much, I'll make it and lower the temperature a tad...




In conclusion... I must try harder to not leave this to last minute. As my kitchen aid would have been too big to do this in, and between you and me... is not available to go right now anyway as it's still swamped in behind dirty dishes from other projects. LOL ... So I bought a hand mixer today.
Only...
Hand mixers are supposed to have beaters, right? Well... straight from the box, the one I picked didn't have any... so it's off to the store again for me to exchange it tomorrow. **rolls eyes** I'd laugh, but now after baking at 400 for 30 minutes, it's too dang hot in here. Will share my thoughts about taste tomorrow after I have a chance to try it.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Cheesecake!

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.



I needed to do something for our work party anyway... so thanks to the suggestion of my friend when I put her on the spot about what sort of cheesecake she'd like to have, we have a Cookies and Cream cheesecake.




Crust:
2 c. Chocolate cookie crumbs - I used store brand double stuffed oreos that I scraped the cream filling out of.
1 stick butter.

(The recipe calles for sugar and vanilla here, but I chose to make my own distinction here, in the efforts to make sure that the crust wouldn't be overly sweet. I also then baked the crust - mixing the crumbs and melted butter together before pressing it into the springform pan... baked at 350 degrees for 8 minutes...)


Filling:
3 packages cream cheese
1 C. sugar
3 eggs
1 C. heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp grand marnier
2 C crumbled chocolate sandwich cookies.
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy. Once blended, fold in cookie pieces.
3. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
4. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to garnish.


In the interest of time... I chose to garnish my cheesecake with 1/2 a bottle of hot fudge sundae topping - heated so that it would pour, spread out on the top of the cheesecake until it began to drip over the side. And then as I needed something that would stand up to being set out for most of the day at work... rosettes of Dream Whip were piped onto the cake and mini Oreo sandwich cookies pressed into the rosettes- if I did it again for myself, I'd use whipped cream.






All in all, it was a very successful cheesecake and the only dessert that was completely consumed at the end of the day.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Brie Crescents

I love brie en croute... Absolutely .... truly... adore it. But who has time to cart around an entire huge round of brie in bread? Not me... and it's soooo yummy when it's hot... My classic favorite is to take just a wedge of brie - $3.99 or less at Trader Joes... cut off the rind and spread Raspberry jam on top and then surround it with a tube of crescent rolls... Then, you give it a little egg wash and sprinkle sliced almonds on top... you can also add a few almonds to the middle with the cheese and jam. YUMMY!!!



I have been known to even just pick up a little package of melba toasts, top with a dab of brie and a dab of jam and pop them in the microwave for 7 seconds until melty to get the same sensation as the baked brie.



The pictures are of my latest idea... the actual crescent rolls as individual brie en croute... So I made half with brie and raspberry jam, sprinkling some almonds on top. I made sure to get the brie completely down the dough triangle and then put jam on top of the cheese before rolling up. Bake per the instructions on the container and *poof* Fantastic!!!
The other ones... inspired by a Giada episode that featured brie and nutella pannini... was simply brie with sugar free chocolate chips. OMG it was fabulous...!
I'm going to do orange marmalade, brie and dark chocolate soon... I might even skip the brie in a few because it sounds yummy.
The brie was all melty and good... the chocolate ones seemed to lose their cheese into the dough, perhaps because there was not enough of a moist part to it? I don't know... what I do know is that I will be experimenting every time i can get my hands on some brie and dough... LOL


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pie...

As one of our favorite bloggers has posted today... over on Cakespy....

PIE!!!

Here is my list of what I've tried or haven't tried.... Italics indicate tried pies... hmm... that almost rhymes... LOL

Acorn Pie
Avocado Pie
Bean Pie
Butter Tart Pie
Cactus Pie
Chess Pie
Derby Pie
Funny Cake Pie
Grapefruit Pie
Grasshopper Pie
Green Tomato Pie (Sweet)
Gooseberry Pie
Grape Pie
Hoosier Pie
Marionberry Pie
Millionaire Pie
Mincemeat Pie
Mock Apple Pie
Nesselrode Pie
Osgood Pie
Ozark Pie
Ricotta Pie
Sawdust Pie
Shoofly Pie
Sweet Pickle Pie
Treacle Cornflake Pie
Vinegar Pie
Watergate Pie
Whortleberry Pie
Zwieback Pie

Looks like I've got some catching up to do... ;o)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Elvis French Toast

I have no idea if anyone else has ever made this recipe...but I like to look at it as my own creation. I'm writing a story and decided to make a character be pregnant with crazy cravings. And ... she was craving bacon. With anything. I'd seen some other posts on tastespotting about elvis sandwiches and things like that so here is my Elvis French Toast recipe.


2 slices bread
1/2 banana - sliced
2 TBSP Peanut Butter
3 slices bacon - cooked as crispy as you want it
Honey
1 egg
2 TBSP Milk


Spread approximately 1 TBSP peanut butter on each slice of bread.

Press banana slices into 1 side and drizzle with Honey. Lay the bacon on the opposite piece of bread. Press together.

Beat the egg with milk in shallow dish and dip the 'sandwich' in it, getting egg on both sides before putting it on a skillet- heated with butter.

Fry like French toast. Butter the top after you've flipped it. Repeat as needed.



I did choose to drizzle it with a little bit of sugar free maple syrup. (The honey I used was imitation so was also very low carb...)


It was so good. Try it... you just might like it.



Sunday, March 1, 2009

It's that time again...


Top Chef season 5 is done and in the books...

I'm not sure how I really feel about the choice that they made. I really wasn't at all that impressed with Hosea's cooking.

yes it was far better than mine probably would be in a competition of this nature but at the same time I wouldn't be all that intrigued to visit his restaurant.

I think that it was rather lame that the sous chefs were basically the runners up in the last three seasons - sorta... Casey and Richard finished 3rd in their respective seasons actually... although I don't think that anyone would dispute that Richard was by far the more talented chef over Lisa last season... he just couldn't muster up the final charge with everything else on his mind at that point.

I choose to call it the car curse. Because Carla also was swept away with that same issue.

Would it have been different if they had done the right thing and named Jeff the winner of the previous challenge, awarding him the car and then getting rid of both Stephan and Fabio before the end? Quite possibly yes. Because maybe Casey isn't with Carla... or maybe someone else picks the piece of Kings Cake that Hosea got....

After all, it was a distinct possibility. They all agreed that the three strongest dishes were Carla, Jeff and Hosea... but couldn't quite bring themselves to award Jeff the first place finish necessary in order to keep all three of them.

Previous seasons... when it has been a more Celebrity chef that was the sous chef, they did not do anything more than what was asked. If a flavor profile or a possible dish pairing was run by them, their job was to weigh in their possible opinion but it was not for them to make other suggestions. The few seasons that the sous chefs were not celebrities... well, lets just say that the sous chefs didn't do anything to reign in a potential disaster by being a voice of reason. Stephan and Dave for Tiffany in season one?

And at the same time... like last season, it would have been far better for Carla to be without sous chef on the final day. She would have stuck with her plan... and made what she knew had gotten her to the final. And Casey would have been impressed...

Anyway... that's my opinion.


They did a chef search in Seattle for the next season. I think they should film a season here or hold a finale here. I'd love to be able to go to an event for them. There are so many different things about this region that are appealing - fresh seafood... birthplace of starbucks... one of the oldest farmers markets... Yes we do have Whole Foods but how impressive would it be if they were all allowed their 1/2 hour of shopping through Pike place market? Especially for Restaurant wars... LOL Flowers and silk tie dyed scarves for table clothes... artwork for the walls. WOW!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

For the Love of Chocolate....

It's that time again.... Daring Bakers!!!

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

In trying to stay true to my Low Carb dieting... Trust me... I over did it plenty when making my valentines day treats. There's something addictive about those ickle little cupcakikins... ;o)

So for my challenge, I was pleased to find that this recipe was easily adaptable into something that would fit within my plan... here is my adapted recipe - my changes are off to the side....

Chocolate Valentino

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

16 ounces of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped ( 16 oz Hershey's sugar free chocolate chips)

½ cup Plus 2 TBSP of unsalted butter

5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.

2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.

3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.

4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).

5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.

6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.

7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}

8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F

9. Bake for 25 minutes until the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.

10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

The second part of this challenge was to make ice cream. I was excited to attempt this as I do not have an ice cream maker. So above, is the cream mixture before going into the freezer and below is a picture I took of it mid freezing. I'm not sure if it took so long to freeze because I used Agave Nectar as my sweetner or if it was my idiotic freezer, but it certainly took a few hours... I'd do it again though and stop before total frozen... milkshake texture would have been nice. How awesome would that be to make homemade milkshakes and never have to turn on the blender?

Again... the recipe, my changes are off to the side....


Wendy's Ice Cream Recipe
Vanilla Philadelphia Style

Recipe Preparation Time: 5 minutes

2 cups of half and half

1 cup heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar (1/3 cup Agave Nectar - mine was vanilla flavored)

Dash of salt

1 tablespoon of vanilla

Mix all ingredients together (we do this in a plastic pitcher and mix with an emulsifier hand blender-whisking works too).Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer Mix in your ice cream maker as directed.

Without ice cream maker, put your bowl in freezer and stir it every 45 minutes until ice cream has been formed.



And then the cake was done....


For serving, I decided to serve it with Raspberry sauce... the chocolate even though sugar free was bound to be a bit much for me.
All I did was take a few frozen cubes of raspberry puree... crushed and frozen last summer at the height of their season... yummo! And drizzled them with a little agave nectar for sweetness and let them thaw out completely. This plating was the one I did when I was too anxious to wait any longer.
One of my friends sent me the placemat for a Valentine's present... Thanks Sweetie!!! I love them.

The cake is ready for it's close up... See - the ice cream wasn't quite frozen enough to not be a pool of cream... still very yummy though.


Then, I did a plating the following day... when the ice cream was able to hold the shape of the scoop...



It was fun... I've had my eye on a flourless cake for a while. Can't wait til next month!! ooh, which is tomorrow already. LOL




Friday, February 27, 2009

Valentines Day Treats

Ah yes... February is such a short short month!!! It made me realize I hadn't shared my desserts that I took to work yet. By popular request, I had to make these sweet little cupcake bites ~ Bakerella ROCKS! ~ I have become like the most popular person at work when it comes to party day because I make these little guys. (Of course it helps that I found the sweetest little teeny tiny heart sprinkles. They were perfect on the little guys...)
I used Chocolate cake with deep fudge icing and Cherry Chip Cake with Cream Cheese Icing. The chocolate ones... well, some of them were in a 'peanut butter' candy melt cup and topped with 1/2 of a cherry jelly belly. I also used cotton candy and bubble gum jelly bellies for a fun themed color scheme. The cherry chip ones were mostly topped in white and in red or purple cups.


Here's the assembled tray. I realized afterwards that the only ones that were dipped in a colored top were the chocolate ones. But that's okay because the few that were white topped were showing the flavor underneath.


And then for comparison, I made 6 cupcakes of each flavor and decorated them in a similar styling to the mini ones. With bigger heart sprinkles and a whole jelly bean on top. These were frosted with a Whipped Cream Icing - it's pretty good... Betty Crocker does lovely things with frosting. LOL


I had to show off my cupcake stand... one of the girls at work got it for me at Christmas in our secret santa gift exchange and this was the first chance I had to use it. I somehow missed taking pictures of them but I also did up a couple boxes of pillsbury valentines cookies and rolled the edges of about a dozen in the mini heart sprinkles before baking and then frosted the rest with the left over frosting and decorated with cinnamon hearts and sprinkles...

Monday, February 9, 2009

my most favorite salad ever...

Okay... so maybe not my favorite salad ever...

Just at least my favorite since I started trying to be low carb.

Isn't it gorgeous?

<----------


So... it's a steak salad...




Start in your pan with some diced celery and sliced onion... browning to caramelize them, add a little butter towards the end before you put in enough sliced steak for your serving...
Brown to your preferred doneness level...


this is about 2 cups of shredded lettuce... I love using the Fresh Express Shredds... it makes salad making go much quicker.

Put the celery, onions and steak on the lettuce.

Sprinkle with bleu cheese crumbles



And the final topping... which doubles as your dressing is the horseradish sauce.
Horseradish sauce:
1/4 C Sour Cream
2-3 tsp Horseradish - to taste
Black Pepper
Lemon or Lime Juice
Stir Horseradish and pepper into sour cream and add the juice of your choice until it thins out to your desired texture. It keeps in the fridge fairly well and is easily thinned again if it thickens.