July 31, 2007

Strawberry Mirror Cake... Ice Cream


If you’re a Daring Baker, then you’re probably looking at that top picture and thinking to yourself “Um, Brilynn, did you realize your mirror cake is upside down? And why does it look like it’s frozen?” If you’re not a Daring Baker, you’re probably thinking “What the heck is a mirror cake and what does it have to do with ice cream?” There’s a perfectly logical explanation to both sets of questions, I swear. 1- Just because it was supposed to be a mirror cake, doesn’t mean that’s what I ended up with. 2- If it were a mirror cake, you’re right, it would be upside down. 3- It is most certainly frozen.

I tried to follow the rules, I really did, but I was experiencing some seriously negative kitchen karma that day because somehow, everything I did was wrong. Let’s rewind a little bit, shall we? I was trying to make a Strawberry Mirror Cake because that was the recipe that Peabody had selected for this month’s Daring Baker Challenge. It was no surprise that Peabody selected such an elegant dessert for our challenge, everything she makes is spectacular. It really should have come as no surprise either that I managed to goof it up. I’m very good at that. What I was supposed to create was 2 layers of sponge cake surrounded by a strawberry Bavarian cream and topped with a glossy strawberry gelatin layer. What I ended up with was Strawberry Cake ice cream.



I didn’t immediately jump to making ice cream, it began innocently enough with me assembling all of the ingredients and making only one substitution; I set to making the cake as directed. The agar-agar was my one substitution and it was in place of gelatin. It came from a random Chinatown shopping trip where I decided that I needed it without really knowing what it was or how it was used except that it sounded like something I’d need for a molecular gastronomy type dish. Of course I’ve never put it to use and it’s languished in my cupboard until the mirror cake came along. I read about one of the other Daring Bakers who couldn’t use gelatin and was replacing it with agar-agar so I figured I was safe to do so as well since I had no intentions of going into town to pick up the forgotten gelatin, (I shake my fist in the general direction of town).

After making the cake and the Bavarian cream and putting the two together, I left the cake in the fridge, (sans mirror) for a while, hoping it would do as it was supposed to and firm up. After hours of fridge time and no sign of solidification I decided I would just pour the mirror on top of my floating cake island and hope for the best. At first, I was pleasantly surprised. Oooh look at the pretty mirror! It’s all nice and glossy and red. Maybe my cake can be saved after all. Wait, what’s happening? What’s that hole? Where is the mirror going? Noooooooooooo! A sink hole had opened up and I watched as the mirror portion drained down to the bottom of the cake pan, never to be seen again. It was actually pretty cool to watch, I just wish I hadn’t been the only to witness it.


After watching the last few drops of mirror disappear underneath my floating cake island I accepted the fact that my cake was going to be ‘different’ and I got out the ice cream machine. Part way through the churning process Dad walked into the kitchen, looked from the empty cake pan to the ice cream machine and back to the empty cake pan before saying “Uh, were you supposed to do that?” No, no I wasn’t, but after 4 hours in the fridge and not even a hint of becoming firm, short of starting over again, this was all I could do. That’s when Dad’s kitchen smarts kicked in and he suggested that when the ice cream machine was done doing its job, that I pour the frozen cake ice cream into my new silicone bundt pan before putting it in the freezer so that it would still look like a cake, even if it was a frozen one. Genius! This got the wheels in my head turning a little and I decided to also create a mini version in a ramekin which I topped with leftover strawberry juice to create the illusion of a mirror. For a while I debated whether or not my faux strawberry mirror cake could pass as the real thing, but then I wouldn’t have a story to tell you. It’s more fun to read a post about my disasters than if everything had been smooth sailing. Plus, this will make you more impressed with me when I do something and it turns out right.


To check out all of the other Daring Bakers, it’s now easier than ever, just click here to be taken to the Daring Bakers Blogroll. I promise you, they can show you what a real mirror cake should look like. Check out Peabody's post for the original recipe and an example of a gorgeous cake.




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July 29, 2007

A Tale of Two Sorbets


One day while scanning Slashfood I came across a picture of a Korean watermelon flavoured popsicle with chocolate chips for seeds and I knew immediately that I had to try it. Unfortunately, I’m not in Korea and so my watermelon popsicle tasting was going to have to wait. It seemed like it was possible that one day I’d end up in Korea and would get to try this wonderful watermelon concoction so I wasn’t too disappointed. A friend of mine is teaching in Korea right now so that gives me even more reason to go. She’s currently teaching English to kindergarten kids and when she told me they call her Teacher Barbie and Pretty Snowman I almost bought a plane ticket, if only so they could call me Brilynn Teacher Barbie. Then fate intervened in the form of a new cookbook. As I often do with cookbooks, I opened it up and flipped immediately to the desserts section where I spied the most glorious title ever: Watermelon Sorbet with Chocolate Chips. It was exactly what I had been wanting to try and it fell right into my lap. You can all thank my amazing friend Tara for this recipe as she is the one who bought me the book. And you can thank Helen of Tartelette for the inspiration to serve the sorbet in lemon cups. Seriously, that girl comes up with the best ideas.



Watermelon Sorbet with Chocolate Chips (from Masterclass in Italian Cooking by Maxine Clark)


750g/1lb 10oz skinned, cubed watermelon

300g/10oz/1 ¼ cups superfine sugar

1 cinnamon stick

Freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons

1 egg white

125g/4 ½ oz chocolate chips, (I cut my own chunks)


Remove the seeds from the melon. Liquidize the melon, then, with the machine running, pour in the sugar and blend for about 30 seconds.

Pour the melon mixture into a saucepan and add the cinnamon stick. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring all the time to completely dissolve the sugar, then turn down the heat and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat, remove the cinnamon stick, add the lemon juice and cool.

Freeze in an ice cream maker and when half frozen, lightly whisk the egg white and add with the machine running. Stir in the chocolate chips at the end of the cycle.

To make serving extra pretty, serve in hollowed out lemon halves.


One sorbet is never enough and so I’m giving you two. I needed to make a gluten free dessert one night to accommodate a dinner party guest and I’m not gonna lie, I really didn’t know what that entailed. I count my blessings everyday that I’m not one of those unfortunate souls who has a food allergy or dietary restrictions. However, because of that, I had no clue what kind of dessert I could make that would be safe for the gluten free guest to eat. As usual, the internet came to my rescue and I perused a ton of gluten free blogs and armed myself with knowledge before ultimately deciding to do my own thing. I had been contemplating a sorbet from the get go, but the problem was that I didn’t have enough of any one kind of fruit to make a single flavour of sorbet. Luckily, pretty much all fruit goes together so I gathered up the remnants of fruit strewn about my kitchen counters and made a super sorbet that combined everything I had. This resulted in a brightly coloured and flavoured sorbet that was much appreciated by the gluten free and non-gluten free guests alike.


Bri’s Super Sorbet


2 bananas

1 small mango

1 orange, juiced, reserve peel

1 lime, juiced, reserve peel

½ quart strawberries

1 cup raspberries

¼ cup Malibu liqueur

1 ½ cups water

1 ½ cups sugar


Combine water, sugar, orange and lime peels in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain out the peel.

Combine everything in a blender and blitz it until smooth. My beautiful K-tec blender makes it so smooth that straining isn’t necessary, if you’re not so fortunate, then strain the resulting mixture.

Chill the mixture and then freeze according to your ice cream manufacturers’ directions.



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July 28, 2007

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'


I’ve come to the conclusion that if you form your food into a roll, it becomes destined for success. Think about it; from the common pigs in a blanket to a rich chocolate roulade to fresh sushi, rolled up is the way to be. The shape is ideal because it corrals a wealth of tasty ingredients into a tiny enclosure, thus making it easy to pick up and pop into your mouth. Instant appetizer. And although rolls are fun and easy to eat, making them can be somewhat of a challenge. Every time I try to make rolls, of any sort, the first three are always sacrifices. It’s not like riding a bike. If you don’t make them on a regular basis, you quickly forget how. Or at least I do. My first few rolls always have ingredients spilling out of them and more often than not end up shoved into my mouth so that no one else can see how pitiful they look. I think that’s why I like cooking so much, getting over my mistakes is much easier when they’re edible.



These rolls, for example, were not what I was originally going for, but they turned out alright. I wanted to make temaki rolls. As you can see, these aren’t them. Apparently my cone rolling skills leave a lot to be desired. Although in my defense, I had prepared all of my ingredients before I discovered I only had two sheets of nori, which I then divided into 8 pieces. Those pieces were not nearly large enough to make temaki. Instead, I formed these little cigar shaped appetizers. Not what I was going for, but it worked. You’ll notice that only two of the three pictures are my fake-out temaki rolls, the third is of rice paper rolls. The rice paper rolls contain a few of the same ingredients, (mango and shrimp) but were made on a different occasion. I recommend rolls for every occasion. I’m telling you, if you roll it, they will come… and ask for more.



Sushi Cigars


Sushi rice

Rice Wine Vinegar

Sugar

Mango

Shrimp

Pickled ginger

Wasabi


Don't you just love it when I give you exact measurements? Yeah... about that...



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July 26, 2007

Starbucks Has Got Nothing On Me

If you’re one of those people who walks into Starbucks and orders a Grande 5-Pump Raspberry Green Tea Frappuccino then this ice cream is for YOU. I guarantee that not only will you like it, but you’ll like it better than Starbucks and will be forever indebted to me for introducing you to it. What’s even better is that if I’m making it, it won’t cost you $5 each time you want some… or will it? Maybe I should set up an ice cream stand outside of Starbucks, then I can swipe their business with this Matcha White Chocolate Raspberry ice cream. I might need to think of a new, cooler name for it though, something like Super Matcha Jumbo Raspberry White Chocolate Ice Cream Supreme. The more ridiculous the better. Or what about Mucho Matcha Razzmatazz Ivory Chocolaté Crema Glacé? Yes, I like it, mixing languages makes it infinitely better. An ice cream this smooth and creamy deserves a name as outrageous as that. It’s a world of delicious.



YumSugar is currently hosting an Ice Cream Challenge and has asked everyone to send in their favourite ice cream recipes. This one is currently ranked pretty high on my list of favourites and I make a whole lot of ice cream, so that’s a special honour. Try it for yourself, although I cannot be blamed for the Starbucks-like line up that will wind its way to your freezer door when word gets out you’ve made something so delicious.



Super Matcha Jumbo Raspberry White Chocolate Ice Cream Supreme (adapted from Steamy Kitchen who adapted it from Kuidaore, spread the love)


1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 ½ cups milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
4 large egg yolks
8 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons matcha powder, sifted
1 ½ cups raspberries


1. In a medium heavy saucepan, bring the cream, milk, sugar and salt to a simmer over low heat, stirring constantly.

2. While whisking eggs, pour about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture in a thin, steady stream in the bowl of eggs. This should temper the eggs. Now pour the tempered eggs in the rest of the saucepan with the hot cream mixture, in a thin, steady stream while whisking the hot cream.

3. Cook over low heat, constantly stirring, just until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Do not let this mixture boil. Pour this mixture through a strainer.

4. Place the chocolate over a double boiler, stirring occasionally until chocolate is melted. Add the matcha powder to the chocolate and stir vigorously to mix well. Add this to the strained hot cream and stir to blend. Cool this mixture and refrigerate until chilled.

5. Freeze according to the instructions for your ice cream machine.

6. When the ice cream is almost completely finished, add in the raspberries.


****Note: Everytime I post about ice cream, someone asks me what kind of ice cream maker I have and like a jerk I probably didn't answer them, so please accept my apologies and this is my ice cream maker: Cusinart 2 Quart Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt and Sorbet Maker




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July 25, 2007

Stack ‘Em Up

Why are they stacked? Because 3-D is better than 2-D, that’s why. I’ve had trouble with eggplant before, it’s a tricky vegetable. My repeated attempts to make baba ghanouj have failed and I think part of my problems may be due to the nature of the eggplant itself. Eggplants have struggled with an identity issue their whole lives. Even eggplants don’t know how to cook themselves properly. This stems from a number of reasons; to begin with, it’s called eggplant and that’s misleading. Last time I checked, only dinosaur eggs are that big and even they aren’t purple. And even if you can get over the fact that eggplants don’t look like eggs or act like them either you still have to figure out how to cook them.



Due to their identity problems, eggplants have developed a certain bitterness that seems only to be alleviated by sprinkling them with salt and letting them sit while the bitterness seeps out. It’s a detox process. After you’ve cajoled the bitterness out of them, eggplants become needy. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize this and so they partner eggplants up with oil. That’s asking for trouble. At this point in their life, eggplants will suck up oil and hold onto it like there’s no tomorrow. They’re like little sponges, thirsty for love, which they’re happy to receive from the friendly oil. But that’s a toxic relationship because an excess of oil will turn people off eggplant so it’s best if you help the eggplant avoid heartache and rejection by keeping him away from life-sucking oil. I suggest spraying your detoxed eggplant with just a touch of oil and then sending them to a warm climate for a tropical vacation. By this, I mean the BBQ. What’s not to like? It’s warm and there are pretty zucchini hanging out there for the eggplant to mingle with. In my experience, the eggplant and zucchini will usually end up hooking up and that’s all the better for you. Once zucchini and eggplant have sandwiched themselves together, you need only to top the pair with goat cheese, reduced balsamic vinegar and a nice basil leaf for a tasty, tasty appetizer. Eggplant emerges victorious and everybody wins.



Eggplant and Zucchini Happy Stacks


1 eggplant, sliced into rounds

1 zucchini, sliced into rounds

½ cup balsamic vinegar

Goat cheese

Basil leaves

Cooking spray


Slice the eggplant and place in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and allow to sit for 10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly and pat dry. Preheat the BBQ and spray both the eggplant and zucchini lightly with cooking oil. BBQ, flipping once, until you have nice grill marks on each side. In the meantime, bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until vinegar has thickened slightly. Just before the eggplant are done on the BBQ, top with a slab of goat cheese so that it has time to melt. Remove from the grill and stack the eggplant on top of the zucchini, drizzle with vinegar and top with a basil leaf. Serve immediately.



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July 23, 2007

Take Me Away to a Tropical Paradise


Mary of Alpineberry is hosting this month’s Sugar High Friday and has chosen Tropical Paradise as the theme. And while I would love to currently be in a tropical paradise, summer here, though lacking in tropical fruit, isn’t bad. I think it’s a crime I haven’t been to the beach yet, but if I close my eyes and try really hard, I can imagine myself there while dipping into this tropical mango treat.



On a somewhat unrelated topic, I want to know your opinion… I know a bunch of you have taken cooking classes, some of you have also done full cooking programs at a chef school, (CIA or otherwise) and I want to know what you thought of it. What were you looking to get out of it and was it just for personal enjoyment or were you looking for a career? There are going to be some changes going on here in the next few months, I’m just not sure what those changes are going to be. Unrelated to cooking altogether, has anyone taught English in a foreign country? Japan is also looking appealing… And don’t forget, I’m always in the market for a life sponsor, I can make you tasty things like Tropical Mango Treats… Or you could make your own by following my recipe, so here it is:



Bri’s Tropical Mango Treat


1 ½ cups plain yogurt

1 mango, peeled and sliced

1 cup water

¼ cup honey

1 inch ginger, sliced

Juice of 1 lime

Drizzle of banana Malibu


Strain yogurt through cheesecloth, preferably in the fridge overnight so that it gets nice and thick. In a small pot, bring water, honey, ginger and lime juice to a boil, stir to dissolve the honey and then reduce heat to a simmer. Add in the mango slices and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove mango from the syrup and roughly chop. Strain the syrup and reserve. In a small bowl combine the strained yogurt with a few spoonfuls of the syrup and whisk together. Layer the yogurt and mango pieces in a glass and drizzle with Banana Malibu liqueur. Serve as is or chill first. Makes 1 generous serving or 2 regular ones. You can then use the extra syrup to make drinks or flavoured water.



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July 22, 2007

Deep Fried Goodness


Check it out, I deep fried! No I didn’t, I’m lying. I made Dad do the deep frying. But I could have. Olives are small so you can make this in a smallish pan without heating up an entire vat of sizzling oil. Like I said, I still made Dad do the frying, but I’m confident that despite my fear of hot oil exploding all over me, I could have deep fried these olives without too much stress. A little bit of stress would be worth it anyways, these are great little pre-dinner poppers, just make sure to let them cool off a little before shoving one in your mouth. It’s hard to wait, I know, I’m Captain Impatient, but you’ll be sorry if you don’t. After you’ve let them cool, make sure you bring them to your dinner guests immediately though or else they won’t get a chance to taste the deep friend olive goodness. That’s not because they don’t keep, but because once you start eating them you won’t stop until there are none left. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.



Fried Green Olives Stuffed with Blue Cheese (From Bon Appetit, August 2007)


1 ounce (about) mild blue cheese (such as Maytag)
24 pitted Spanish olives, patted dry
Peanut oil (for frying)
All purpose flour
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1/2 cup fine dry breadcrumbs


Roll small amount of cheese into log shape narrow enough to stuff into 1 pitted olive; stuff olive with cheese. Repeat with remaining olives and cheese. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Pour enough oil into heavy large skillet to measure depth of 1 inch. Heat oil to 350°F. Roll stuffed olives in flour, then in egg, then in breadcrumbs to coat. Fry olives until golden brown, about 30 seconds. Using slotted spoon, transfer olives to paper towels to drain. Serve hot.



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July 20, 2007

Berries Are This Bakers Best Friend


Possibly the best use for berries, other than eating them out of hand, is using them to cover up baking disasters. Think about it; berries are bright and attractive and quite effective at drawing the eye away from unsightly mistakes. You were probably so distracted by the berries in these pictures that you didn’t even notice what they were hiding. In the first photo they’ve been strategically placed to fill up a very large crack that appeared when I tried to make my first ever roulade. I think a more appropriate term for what I’ve created would be a fold-ade. Try as I might, that thing would not roule, (comme on dit en français). It folded so well you could make origami out of it but rolling was out of the question. Who am I to fight nature? I folded my cake. Of course, immediately afterwards I began brainstorming ways to cover up the fact that it was folded. Whipped cream was the obvious answer but I was all out of it. I was beginning to despair when the leftover berries on the counter started calling out to me, telling me they wanted to rejoin their friends in the cake. I was happy to oblige and so grateful for their offer that I first laid down a bed of icing sugar so that they would be comfortable. I’m thoughtful like that. If you’re still not convinced that berries successfully covered up the roulade failure then what if I told you it was a “rustic” cake, never meant to be a roulade in the first place? Are you satisfied now? Pretty or not, this cake was tasty.


For their second trick, the wild black raspberries, (from my backyard no less) were used to fill and decorate a 3 layer meringue cake. The final product is far from what I originally had in mind, (this seems to be a theme for me lately) but it worked. Once again however, egg whites got the best of me. I am simply unable to get those little proteins to do what I want them to. At first I had visions of a pavlova, but all of the recipes that I looked at called or 4-6 egg whites. I had 12 whites, (I sure have been making a lot of ice cream...) and was determined to use every last one of them so instead of making one enormous pavlova, I made three enormous meringue discs from a pavlova recipe courtesy of Elise of Simply Recipes, that I doubled. Of course none of my meringue discs turned out the same size and two of them were dark around the edges and instead of using a knife to make them nice and neat, I tore off the dark part with my fingers. This resulted in less than perfect cake edges and a simple coating of berries wouldn’t be enough to hide the flaws so I actually had to go out and buy more whipping cream. Whipped cream alone would have been plain so on went the berries. It’s a good thing I’ve got my own supply. I suppose at this point, my meringue cake is looking an awful lot like my fold-ade, but it’s got a few tricks up its sleave. The whipped cream and berry exterior of the meringue cake is hiding an interior rich with bittersweet chocolate whipped cream, (à la Dorie Greenspan) black cherries and more wild raspberries. Oooh, tasty.



Let this post be a lesson to you, if your cake’s an aesthetic disaster just cover it with berries and/or whipped cream and you’re good to go.


Chocolate Roulade with Irish Coffee Cream (From the book Cake by Joanna Farrow)


Prep time: 20 minutes.

Baking time: 20 minutes

Serves 8


175g (6oz) plain chocolate, broken up

5 eggs, separated

150g (5oz) golden caster sugar, plus extra to sprinkle

1 T instant espresso powder

200ml (7 fl oz) double cream

4 T Irish whisky



Grease and line a 33 x 23 cm (13 x 9 inch) Swiss roll tin. Grease the paper. Melt the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.

Beat together the egg yolks and sugar for 3-4 minutes until thickened and pale. Whisk in the melted chocolate. In a separate, thoroughly clean bowl whisk the egg whites until peaking. Fold a quarter of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remainder. Turn the mixture into the tin, spreading it gently to the corners.

Bake in a preheated over, 180C, (350F) for about 20 minutes or until risen and just firm. Sprinkle a sheet of baking parchment with caster sugar.

Leave the cake in the tin for 10 minutes then invert if on to the parchment and peel away the lining paper. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to cool.

Blend the espresso with 1 T boiling water to dissolve. Put it in a bowl with the cream and whisky and whisk until just peaking. Spread the cream almost to the edges of the roulade and roll up, starting from a short end. Turn on to a serving plater.

And if you’ve goofed up like I have, dust with icing sugar and cover with wild raspberries.


Many, many, many thanks to Minh of Couture Cupcakes for sending me this wonderful book. Despite my inability to roll a cake, the recipe is delicious and the book is full of cakes I want to try.





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July 17, 2007

These Are Not Pierogies


They may look like pierogies, but they’re not. They’re pockets of goodness to tickle your tastebuds. Why the name change? I’ve decided that I shouldn’t call anything I make by its original name because that makes it too easy for picky eaters to say they don’t like it. So you may have had pierogies, but you’ve never had pockets of goodness! Changing the name changes the whole food. Given my strong feelings about always trying new things, I would consider it a personal insult if you refused to try my pockets of goodness on the basis that you don’t like pierogies, because clearly, these aren’t pierogies. Perhaps you’re wondering why I would ever have to change the name of something as delicious as pierogies, because surely, everyone loves pierogies, right? Well let me tell you a little story…


Once upon a time there was a Ukranian Princess who, contrary to all of her culinary heritage, hated pierogies. This hate of pierogies was completely irrational, (as a hate of any food is) and stemmed from one bad childhood experience. Unfortunately, when the Princess was still a little girl she fell ill shortly after eating some delicious pierogies. And although the pierogies were not to blame for the illness, they became inextricably linked to being sick. Ever since that time the Princess has refused to eat pierogies in any way, shape or form. In fact, it’s been so long since she’s had one that she doesn’t even remember what they taste like or even what they’re made of. But this is one stubborn Princess and no one has been able convince her to give pierogies another try. However, the palace chef has confided to me that the Princess likes all of the individual elements of a pierogi and should therefore love the sum total. This is the real reason why I have changed the name of my pierogies to pockets of goodness. It’s all in the hope that I can persuade the Princess to take just one bite and realize what she’s been missing all of these years. Wish me luck.


If you happen to have a Ukranian Princess, (or any other Princess for that matter) who needs to be convinced that pierogies are worthy of their time, then give this recipe a try. The only thing that I changed was the cooking method. I began by frying up a slice of homemade bacon and then removed the bacon from the pan, drained off some of the grease and fried the boiled pierogies in the bacon fat to crisp them up a little. I served the pierogies with the reserved bacon and some sour cream and they were fit for a Princess.



Potato and Cheese Perogies

(Adapted from Bozena Srubarek, Business Class Catering, Toronto via Foodtv.ca)


Dough

2 cups all-purpose flour (500 ml)

1/2 tsp salt (2 ml)

2 large egg yolks

2 tsp vegetable oil (10 ml)

1/2 to 3/4 cup hot tap water (125 ml to 175 ml)


Potato Cheese Filling

2 medium potatoes, peeled, cut in chunks

1T sour cream (15 ml)

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated (250 ml)

salt and pepper, to taste


Dough

Place flour on counter or wooden board. Sprinkle salt on top of flour. Make a well in centre. Place egg yolks and oil in well. Using the tips of your fingers, stir in circular motion, working from middle of flour mixture out and adding water with other hand, a little at a time, as you go. You have added enough water when dough begins to hold together and so just slightly sticky. Form into ball, scraping up and adding any bits that stick to counter

Knead dough, adding a little more water if necessary, 20 to 25 times or until soft and elastic. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour or overnight.


Potato Cheese Filling

Add potatoes to medium pot of boiling salted water. Cook until soft. Add sour cream, yogurt or milk. Mash with potatoes masher or ricer. Stir in cheese. Season with salt and pepper.


Assembly

To fill perogies, divide dough into 3 to 4 pieces. I used a pasta machine to roll out the dough, but the original recipe tells you to do the following: Using hands, shape into logs about 1- inch in diameter. Slice each log into pieces 1-inch wide. Dust each piece lightly in flour. Using hands, shape each piece into a round disc, then pull gently as you would pizza dough to make the disk thinner. When dough is thin, place a rounded tsp. of filling in centre. Using your fingers, gently pull dough over filling to form half-moon shape. Pinch edges together carefully but tightly, crimpling as you go, to seal. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.


To cook the perogies, bring large saucepan of salted water to boil. Reduce heat so water simmers and does not boil rapidly. Add perogies, one at a time, taking care not to over crowd the pan. Cook uncovered, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and gently with wooden spoon to loosen from sides of saucepan. Drain.


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July 15, 2007

I Can Change Your Life Too


When in doubt, close your eyes, open up Baking: From My Home to Yours and make whatever you see. Trust me on this one, Dorie wouldn’t steer you wrong and neither would I. No matter what you choose, it will be good. Don’t be afraid to make something you wouldn’t usually or to try something new. This extends beyond baking to all eating adventures. Trying something new won’t hurt you, especially if it’s something I suggest. Although I may be biased, I think everyone should heed my food suggestions. Ideally I’d have each one of you sitting in front of me and I would force you to take a bite of whatever I was making, whether you thought you’d like it or not. In fact, I would be even more impressed if you tried it even if you were confident that you would hate it. I won’t ever be offended if you don’t like something new, (well, maybe a little) but I will be offended if you refuse to at least take a little bite.



It always amazes me when a friend tells me they’ve never tasted certain foods that I consider common, (like grapefruit or mango!). And it frustrates me to no end when people say they never try anything new because they’re happy with their old standbys. If you tell me you don’t try new things I will make it my mission to corrupt your flawed way of thinking and sway you over to the dark, er, tasty side. It thrills me to no end to be the person who introduces others to a novel flavour or texture. I love watching their face as they bite into something unknown and the surprised look on their face as they discover they actually like what I’ve given them. How could anyone not delight in standing over the kitchen sink, sucking on a mango pit with juice running down their arms? And how could you forget the first time you bit into a hot sesame bun, only to realize that the inside is not “light and cakey” but rather chewy and bursting with sweet red bean? What about your first sushi experience when you’re shocked to realize that not only do you like sushi, (which was previously believed to be icky) but you like sashimi even better than the westernized California roll. Once you start listening to me you’ll be asking yourself life altering questions like: Why have I been eating greasy fast food chicken when I could have been eating a delicious, freshly made chicken empanada, at no additional cost and requiring no additional time? Yes folks, I have the power to change lives.



If you’d like to try something new and start to change your life for the better, any of these recipes are a good beginning.


Classic Brownies, Page 88: I added a smidge of espresso powder because I’m currently loving it in all things chocolate.


Granola Grabbers, Page 82: I didn’t have almonds so I subbed in some skor toffee bits. I also didn’t have the full quantity of raisins that were required so I topped it off with craisins.


Ginger Jazzed Brownies, Page 101: Despite the lavender in the picture, there is none in the brownies, these are chocolate and ginger through and through.


Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart, Page 355: There was nothing I could do to improve this tart, it was fabulous. And although I don’t have a photo to go along with it, the Soft Chocolate Raspberry Tart from the opposite page is also quite lovely.




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July 11, 2007

I Built My Own Boat... Out Of Endive


Basement update: The flood waters have subsided and the hot water heater has been replaced, finally. For the past couple days I’ve been having the iciest showers ever. You’d think that would be nice in this heat but since I’m not a polar bear the frigid water hit me as if it were needles. I’ve also determined that it’s awfully hard to wash your hair while cowering in the corner of the shower, trying not to get wet. But enough about that, on with the food!

I like my food to look pretty. I have this warped notion that the prettier it looks, the better it tastes. I know that this is wrong. In fact, it’s been proven wrong many times. For example: the elegant looking sweet you get at a bakery that turns out to be stale and not unlike cardboard in terms of taste, (but that you still eat in the hopes that it will magically turn delicious). And on the other end of the spectrum, how appetizing does a brown stew really look? But stews are often packed with flavour, especially the ones that I make. Given the fact I always want the best of both worlds, I try to make food that looks as beautiful as it tastes. That’s why I made these little endive boats. Sure, I could have mashed everything together and eaten it from a bowl, but using the endive leaves instead elevates what is essentially tuna salad, to a whole new level. For the tuna mixture, I used a can of Clover Leaf’s flavoured tuna, (tomato onion to be exact) which was actually pretty decent. It comes in baby cans so it’s just enough for a single serving without having leftovers, (this is good because it prevents your roommates from opening the fridge door and exclaiming “EW! Tuney!”). The secret ingredient though was Lizano Salsa, which is not a salsa in the typical chunky tomato way. It’s a thin, smooth sauce that’s a little bit spicy and a lot bit delicious. My parents brought a few bottles back from Costa Rica earlier this year and it’s fabulous stuff.




For a sweet treat after your lunch, may I suggest a coffee muffin to go with your espresso? Dorie’s Coffee Break muffins may seem simple, perhaps even a little plain without any add ins or extras, but trust me, they’re perfect that way. I had to resist throwing in some mini chocolate chips, but I’m glad I fought off the urge. These muffins have a tender, moist crumb and a texture that I would like to call silky. If muffins can be silky, this one definitely is. Obviously, these Coffee Break muffins are yet another wonderful recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours. Enjoy.



Fancy Schmancy Tuna Endive Boats


1 can Clover Leaf Tomato and Onion Tuna

¼ of a yellow pepper, diced

Half stalk of celery, diced

A few splashes of Lizano Salsa

A few sprigs of cilantro, chopped

A couple cherry tomatoes

4 endive leaves

Mix everything together and spread into the endive leaf boats, top with cherry tomatoes. Serves 1.





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July 09, 2007

Can Someone Please Build Me an Ark?


What began as a simple trip to the deep freeze turned into a disaster. This morning I was part way through making Rum Raisin Oatmeal cookies when I decided that I needed a raspberry brownie. Once the thought entered my head it wouldn’t go away until the raspberry brownie urge was satisfied. In order to do that I had to go downstairs to the deep freeze where I had hidden the brownies with the hope that I wouldn’t eat them all, (fat chance!). As I descended the stairs, something didn’t feel right. I blinked a few times to allow my eyes to adjust to the darkened basement. For some reason the floor looked a little shimmery. I decided it was just my eyes playing tricks on me so I continued down the stairs. On the second last step I realized why the floor appeared shimmery, but the part of my brain that was controlling the urge for a brownie overtook the part that controls common sense. I stepped off the last stair knowing full well was about to happen and yet still didn’t prevent it. SPLOOSH! I was soaked up to my ankles. The entire basement was flooded. I practically needed a boat to row to the freezer. My first instinct was to back slowly up the stairs, shut the basement door and pretend like nothing ever happened.


Apparently the common sense area of my brain was shocked into action by my wet feet and it told me that I had to do something about this mess. Or at least phone someone else to do something about this mess. The problem solver on the other end of the line told me to turn off the water in the house because he believed the cause of the tsunami in my basement to be a burst hot water heater. After I got off the phone, shut off the water and moved the cat’s litter box to higher ground, I decided there was nothing more I could do to fix the basement until reinforcement arrived. It was around this time that the brownie urge returned so I pulled on some big rubber boots, trudged through the murky swamp waters, delved into the deepfreeze and emerged victorious, brownie in hand. Moments later that brownie was safely tucked away in my tummy and I was ready to finish making cookies.



Unlike everything, there were no problems with the cookies. I especially liked the part were I got to leave the dishes in the sink because there was no hot water to wash them. Most importantly though, the cookies didn’t suffer any harm and they showed no signs of the drama that swirled around them. The rum turned out to be more like a secret ingredient than having a flat out alcoholic taste. It was a unique addition to the cookies that most people liked but couldn’t quite put their finger on unless they were told that it was rum. My supervisor ate more than half of them while trying to figure it out. I think it was just an excuse for him to eat more cookies. That was fine by me, he can have all the cookies he wants, I'd like a raise in return…


You may be wondering what the pictures have to do with this story. Nothing really, but the post would have been naked without them. I don’t have photos of the raspberry brownies, (Donna Hay, I highly recommend them) or the Rum Raisin Oatmeal cookies so instead I’m giving you a couple of other treats that I hadn’t gotten around to posting about yet. The first pic is of Dorie’s Chocolate Chunk muffins, to which I added blueberries because I had fresh ones sitting on the counter, daring me to put them in. The second photo is a strawberry rhubarb pie that I made for a friend after his repeated pie requests went unanswered. It had gotten to the point that I was starting to worry that if I didn’t bake him a pie soon he would buy some sort of frozen abomination that they try to pass off for pie at a convenience store. No one’s tastebuds deserve to be assaulted like that so I made him a real pie, complete with lattice top, just to be fancy. And doesn’t it look pretty under my cake dome?!?




July 08, 2007

Quinoa Is Good, This Post Is Incoherent


Quinoa; it’s pronounced keen-wah, but don’t feel bad if you’ve pronounced it qwin-oh-a, you’re in good company with yours truly. I’ve got it straight now though and I’m using it in more cooking ventures as a result. My current favourite way to use quinoa is in this zesty salad. There are no measurements for it because it changes every time I make it. If you don’t like one ingredient, don’t use it, if you really like another, use more of it, it’s as simple as that. I had good intentions of submitting this salad to Lisa and Kelly’s Salad Stravaganza but it just didn’t happen and since I'm ridiculously late, the round up is already posted, (go check it out for 49 other ways to make salad). I blame my poor timing on the fact that I’ve been a spacecadet lately. Today, for example, I tried to make lemon chicken with rice and somehow ended up with lemon pork and quinoa. Dinner music was provided courtesy of the smoke detector, which howled as a reminder to keep better watch of the stove so as not to burn the lemon sauce. But more on that disaster another day. Lemon chicken is one of my favourite dishes so I want to make sure to do it justice, (and that requires me to be conscious enough to remember all of the ingredients). Now where was I? Off in space again. Hey- did you know that an ostrich’s kick is powerful enough to kill a lion? True story.



Zesty Quinoa Salad


Quinoa

Edamame

Corn

Red Pepper

Feta

Parsley

Cilantro

Chives

Smoky paprika

Cumin

Garlic

Lime juice

Olive oil



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July 06, 2007

Food for Thought: The Keady Market


Want to know more about the Keady Market and that gorgeous pizza? Well then hop on over to the Foodtv Canada blog to read my new post!


July 05, 2007

Waffles Meet Nachos


What do you do when you have leftover cheddar cheese waffles? You turn them into waffle chips, that’s what. Whose great idea was this? Obviously not mine. It comes from the master of all things fantastic: Dorie Greenspan. Yes, that’s right, she does savoury just as well as she does sweets. Is there anything this woman can’t do? Well, last time I checked she didn’t have a recipe for stopping time, but I wouldn’t put it past her. It’s something to look forward to in her next book. I can see it now; a time stopping cake with M&M’s on top. But this post is supposed to be about waffles so let’s get back to it. Thanks to Kelly-Jane of Cooking the Books I am now in possession of another Dorie masterpiece: Waffles from Morning to Midnight. It’s an entire book dedicated to waffles and if you’re a regular visitor here you’ll know that I believe that aside from
being delicious, waffles add years to your life. An entire book about waffles is therefore like a guidebook to immortality. I don’t know if I can be trusted with this much power…


I had previously experimented a bit with savoury waffles in order to make my Waffle-BLT but I had never even considered all of the other ways that waffles could be used. There’s an entire section in Dorie’s book on snacks and starters. This is where the waffle chip idea comes from. The particular waffle recipe I used isn’t from Dorie’s book, but the technique is. I took some leftover cheese waffles that I had in the freezer and baked them at 200F for an hour and a half until they were crisp. And it’s just that easy to make waffle chips! Dorie suggests tons of dips and spreads for your waffle chips, but I had waffle nachos in mind so I covered my waffle chips with grated sharp cheddar and stuck them under the broiler to melt the cheese. Then I simply plated the cheesy chips and served them with a spicy salsa for dipping. I love this idea. It’s a new, fun way to do chips and dip and as an added bonus, the waffle’s crevasses are perfect for scooping up extra sauce. Ooooh saucy!


Rest assured, there will be many more waffle recipes appearing here in the future. I think these waffles alone extended my life expectancy by at least 10 years so I’ll be around for a while still.




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July 03, 2007

I'm Making Enough Ice Cream to Fill a Bathtub


This Coconut Dulce de Leche ice cream was almost missing the dulce de leche as I ate a quarter of it before it could be added to the ice cream machine. That’s right, I just ate it with a spoon. What can I say? It was addictive. Luckily I eventually restrained myself because it was an integral part of my finished ice cream. I used David Lebovitz’s oven method to make dulce de leche which meant that my kitchen was never in danger of being coated in stickiness from an exploding can of condensed milk that was boiled on the stovetop. This is a good thing because I’m not a fan of scraping caramelized goo off of the ceiling. I’ve previously made dulce de leche this safe way to use in Lebovitz’s Dulce de Leche Brownies which I can also highly recommend, (the people at work ate them all so no pictures). Given my affinity for his recipes it’s practically a crime that I don’t have The Perfect Scoop yet. Sigh. I’m not doing too badly though, I’ve been having fun making up my own ice creams, like this Coconut Dulce de Leche ice cream for Meeta’s Monthly Mingle. This month we're mingling with ice cream so I'm definitely there.



On a completely unrelated note, has anyone else ever browsed Craigslist purely for the amusement factor? Because maybe you should. I’m sure there are some valid employment opportunities on there but this one made me laugh, it simply read:


"Do you have a bathtub and do you like ice cream? Then invite me over right now so I can take some pictures."


Although I can’t see anyone responding to this ad, to their credit, they raise an interesting idea…


Coconut Dulce de Leche Ice Cream


1 can coconut milk, (unsweetened)

½ cup milk

1 cup heavy cream

½ cup sugar

½ cup toasted coconut

1 can sweetened condensed milk to make Dulce de Leche


Combine coconut milk, milk and sugar in a food processor and process until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream. Chill and then pour into your ice cream maker. Near the end of the cycle add in the toasted coconut followed by the dulce de leche.



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Worth the Sacrifice


Lately I’ve been coming up with all sorts of ideas for ice cream, sherbert and sorbet flavours. The problem that I have is actually getting the ingredients into the ice cream without eating them first. This most recent sorbet that I made is a perfect example of that. It was made with freshly picked strawberries, a perfectly ripe mango and chunk of ginger. Now when I’ve got a pint of fresh strawberries sitting in front of me I just want to eat them. Maybe add a little whipped cream on top, maybe dip them in chocolate, but if push comes to shove they’re good all on their own. As for the mango, it’s impossible to get a truly freshly one here as they’re clearly not a cold climate fruit. That means I have to buy a semi-ripe mango and let it sit on my counter for what seems like an eternity before I can taste its succulent interior. Every day I walk past that mango, pick it up, turn it over in my hands and bring it up to my nose in the hopes that there will be a sweetness emanating from it that tells me it’s ready to cut open. When that day finally arrives I want nothing more than to suck the flesh from the pit of the mango while standing over the kitchen sink with mango juice dripping down my arms. This weakness of mine makes it awfully difficult to turn fresh strawberries and a ripe mango into a sorbet, no matter how delicious it may be. But I assure you, this sorbet was worth sacrificing my strawberries and mango for, especially with ginger adding its special zing to the concoction.


It’s only an event like Hay Hay it’s Donna Day that can convince me to surrender one of my precious mangoes. Laura of Eat Drink Live is hosting lucky number 13 of HHDD, which was created by Barbara of Winos and Foodies back in 2005. Since I’ve been so keen lately on making full use of the Ice-Man I’m looking forward to seeing the other sorbets that are produced for this event. And I’ve got tons of other flavour ideas floating around too so I’m sure this is only the beginning of my sorbet making adventures.




Sacrificial Strawberry-Mango-Ginger Sorbet



3 cups of strawberries, washed and hulled

1 large juicy mango, peeled and chopped

¾ cup water

¾ sugar

1 inch of ginger, sliced thinly

Crystallized ginger, optional for garnish



Combine the ginger, water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it has come to a boil, reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the sliced ginger out of the mixture. Combine the strawberries, mango and ginger syrup in your 3 horsepower K-Tec Blender. If you’re not using a blender as cool as mine, don’t feel bad, you may have to strain your mixture afterwards though. I didn’t have to, mine was smooth as silk. Let your mixture cool completely in the fridge and then pour into your ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturers directions. A sprinkling of chopped crystallized ginger is a nice touch.





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