Very berry strawberry Cheesecake

April 23, 2011 at 9:22 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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It’s been awhile I know.  I always have the intention of writing a blog post but the days become clouded with curious children exploring their way through every nook of the house, finding treasures and creating messes.  Thus, the nights become a manic cleaning frenzy ending with the floors gleaming simply to await the return of sticky fingers and applesauce paintings sprinkled with flour.

Right now everything seems hard.  I am tired.  Too tired to even give a detailed explanation of how I feel.  At twenty-five-years old I am drained.

I know this is unfair to say this but sometimes I feel like I am a single mother.  It’s a ridiculous comparison, I realize this.  But, with my husbands work schedule (sometimes working 6 days a week, sometimes working nights, sometimes working days) and no family or close friends that I can depend on the loneliness and work is overwhelming.  I don’t know what more to say.  I can’t even express my feelings and I’m not sure why.  Am I unsure? Am I trying to repress?  Am I scared?

Delving into the abyss that is my inner-most self is frightening so all I can do is focus on the positive and face that monster when I feel it’s ready to be tamed. Not now. Sometime soon.

So, I focus on the good, the blessings, the fortune: beaming at the thought of my children playing together and getting to experience the narrative that there lives will weave; laughing at the silliness of my husband and his unintentional thoughtfulness but smiling at the comfort and assurance of his forever love.

My family is the foundation of my life and their love is rooted in my heart.

In fact, my husband brought me some happiness the other day by getting my first baking job.  A co-worker of his asked if I sold my baking (which I never really thought about or tried to pursue) and he forwarded her my email.

The guidelines were simple: a strawberry cheesecake that will feed four people and this is what I came up with.

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Strawberry Cheesecake with strawberry lava layer (adapted from Bon Appetite)

yield: Serves 12

Begin preparing this a day before serving.
Ingredients 
For crust
  • 20 whole graham cracker (10 ounces total), broken
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
For lava layer
  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

For filling

  • 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs
For topping
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For topping

  • 2 16-ounce baskets strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
  • 1 18-ounce jar raspberry jelly

Method

Make crust:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Wrap foil around outside of 10-inch-diameter springform pan with 3-inch-high sides. Combine graham crackers, butter and sugar in processor. Using on/off turns, blend until crumbs begin to stick together. Press crumbs onto bottom and 2 3/4 inches up sides of springform pan. Bake crust 10 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool while preparing filling. Maintain oven temperature.

Make lava layer:

In a small saucepan, combine strawberries and sugar set pan over medium heat. Stir strawberries and when they soften mash.  Cook until reduced by half.  Remove from stovetop and cool to room temperature.

Make filling:

Beat cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt in large bowl until very smooth. Beat in flour. Add eggs and beat just until blended, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl.

Spoon a layer of batter on top of the crust.  Then pour strawberry filling over top gently spreading it to the sides of the pan.  Pour in the rest of the batter.

Bake cheesecake until outer 2-inch edge of cake os puffed and slightly cracked, center is just set and top is brown in spots, about 55 minutes. Transfer cake to rack. Cool 10 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Make topping:
Whisk sour cream, sugar and vanilla in medium bowl to blend.

Spoon topping over cake, spreading to edge of pan. Bake until topping is just set, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Run knife between crust and pan.

Cool hot cake in pan on rack, Chill overnight.

Release pan sides from cheesecake.

Arrange slices of berries in staring from the outside, strawberry points facing out.  Continue to place strawberries in a circular patter and cover completely.

Stir jelly in heavy small saucepan over medium-=low heat until melted.Cool to barely lukewarm, about 5 minutes.

Brush enough jelly over berries to glaze generously, allowing some to drip between berries.

*This post has been entered in Sweet as Sugar*

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Embrace the love day.

February 10, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Valentines day will be here in less than a week. People generally fall on two sides of the Valentine’s day spectrum; you have those who love the holiday and then, there are those who hate it.

Well, I embrace February 14th. I think that I have said this before but I truly believe that Valentine’s day is a day to enjoy. Some people might argue that it is a hallmark holiday and I suppose one could interpret it as such. However, I view it as a day to show your loved ones how you feel. In today’s society, people tend to get caught up in activities, work and, even, play which leaves little time to vocalize the love you have for the one’s around you.

At my household we don’t buy cards; we make them. There are no chocolates bought– no cakes, no sugary confectionaries, nothing of the sort. Everything we do is made from scratch and with love (I realize that is cliche but aren’t many aspects of life cliche?).

So for those of you who detest Valentine’s day, I ask you to take time and express your feelings to the one’s you love. Take time. Don’t rush the process. Make yourself happy and others happy.

And, that is what Valentine’s Day is about.

As a special treat for my children and husband I made Mini Melon-pans. While the average North American might not be familiar with the baked good, it is quite popular in Asia. They are comprised of sweet yeast bun that is covered with a cookie like crust and, in my opinion, quite delicious. So delicious in fact that I have submitted this recipe to YeastSpotting.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone–may your heart be filled with love.

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Mini Melon-Pans (adapted from Happy Home Baking)

Ingredients
(makes 12 mini buns)

Dough Ingredients:

  • 160g bread flour
  • 30g cake flour
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 10g milk powder
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 100ml water
  • 15g unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  • A few drops of red food colouring gel

Pastry Ingredients:

  • 45g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 40g icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 10g milk powder
  • 70g cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  • A few drops of red food colouring gel

Method:
Prepare Bread Dough – Place water, egg yolk, salt, sugar, bread flour, cake flour, milk powder and yeast in the pan of the bread machine (according to the sequence as stated in the instruction manual of your bread machine).

Select the Dough function of the bread machine and press start. After about 8mins of kneading (the ingredients should form a smooth dough by now), add in the 15g of butter. Let the machine continue to knead the dough. After the kneading cycle has stopped (20mins), Stop and Restart the machine. Continue to let the machine
knead for another 10mins. Stop the machine and remove dough from the bread pan. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions (about 120g each). With lightly floured hands, take one portion of the dough and knead in cocoa powder, until the cocoa powder is fully incorporated into the dough adding flour if dough becomes too sticky. Repeat the same for the other dough with food colouring. Leave the third dough plain. Shape each dough into a smooth round and place in separate lightly oiled mixing bowls, cover with cling wrap and let them rise till double in volume about 50 ~ 90mins.

Prepare Pastry Dough –

With an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream butter & icing sugar till pale and fluffy. Add in egg yolk gradually and beat until combined. Add in milk powder and cake flour. Fold with a spatula and gather the mixture to form a dough.

Divide the pastry into 3 equal portions. Knead in cocoa powder, red food colouring separately into two of the portions, leave the 3rd portion plain. Divide each pastry dough into 4 smaller portions. You should have 12 doughs in total.

Cover with cling wrap and leave it aside for 10 mins. When ready, remove bread doughs and give each dough a few light kneading on a lightly floured work surface.

Press out the trapped air as your knead. Divide each dough further into 4 smaller portions (about 30g each) and shape into balls. Flatten each pastry dough into a round disc. Wrap each bread dough with it’s corresponding pastry dough. Wrap the pastry dough over about 2/3 of the bread dough, leaving the bottom 1/3 unwrapped.

Place doughs in paper muffin cups, cover loosely with a damp cloth or cling wrap and let dough proof for 25 – 30mins or till the dough reaches almost to the rim of the paper cup.

Bake at preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 18 mins. Rotate the buns halfway into baking to ensure even browning. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.

The bird’s are twittering the scone of spring… er, song of spring.

March 24, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Spring is officially here. I think that spring is probably my second favourite season. The coming of spring means the start of nice weather, which makes me smile.

This year, though, spring has come too soon. Well, not spring but my birthday. Yes, my birthday is near and I am dreading it. I really don’t want to add another number to my age.

I know that most people probably think that I am overreacting about my age but they just don’t understand. The fact that I don’t have a career by now is troubling to me, which probably has to do with the fact that I have a type A personality (my husband likes to say that I am type A plus plus personality).

If you happen to come across my grade one diary you would find it filled with entries about how well I did on tests and my dreams about going to university. What kind of ridiculous six-year-old writes about that stuff? Probably a child who is type A.

When I got to university I was determined to finish early so I could establish a career sooner. Not only would I take summer classes but I had an over-limit course load in which I needed to get the dean’s approval for (seven courses for one semester).

I would probably still be in school working on my second degree but my husband got this amazing job. While I am so grateful for the career opportunities that he gets, I can’t help but feel unaccomplished. I know, however, that one day I will be able to establish my own successful career.

For now, I am just trying to be the best stay-at-home mother/wife I can be. And, since spring always reminds me of scones (I have no idea why) I whipped up a batch.

These scones are a bit more moist than most scones I have tried albeit I have never had a homemade scone. While they are moist, I think they still maintain the integrity of what makes a scone a scone.

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Cranberry Oat Scones
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup rolled-oats
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milk

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together sour cream and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blended (or two forks) cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Stir in rolled oats and cranberries. Then, stir in the sour cream a little bit at a time. The dough will start to come together.

On a clean surface, flip out the dough. Knead together the dough so that it fully comes together.

Once all the dough has become one big piece, lightly flour the countertop. For dough into a ball and then roll out into a disc that is about 7 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick.

Cut into eight equal pieces.

Place scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

In a small cup beat together the egg and milk. Using a pastry brush, brush the scones with the egg wash (two coats per scone).

Bake in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until scones are brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of a scone.

Serve warm or at room temperature with butter, jam, clotted cream or by itself.

A post of “Olympic” proportions

February 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Look! Look at the play-on-words I did in the title! Man oh man, do I ever love a good play-on-words. I thought the title would be apt because I wanted to talk a little about the Olympics today.

It must seem pretty crazy that I haven’t mentioned the Olympics with me living in Whistler and all. Well, the truth is that I haven’t been able to get out to the village. There is currently a limited amount of parking in Whistler and I think I would be crazy if I decided to walk to the village by myself with my two little girls.

I hear that the village is getting busier and busier and it is just amazing that there are so many people from all over the place. I love how the Olympics act almost like a forum of peace to bring people from all different countries together through sport.

And even though I have not been to the village yet I have watched a lot of events on the tv. I was so happy when Alexandre Bilodeau won gold in the mogul competition.

I was watching the mogul competition with my husband and daughters. When Bilodeau took over first place I started to get really excited and there was only one more participant to go. As the last person went I started chanting “I believe!! I believe!!” Yup, I did that…

Anyway, that gold means a lot to Canada because it is the first Olympic gold Canada has ever won on home soil–go Canada, go! Oh, and for all you American reader’s out there I was jumping with joy when Apolo Ono took silver in 1500m speed skating competition! Way to go Apolo!

All in all, the Olympics have been fantastic and they are about to get a bit better because my best friend/cousin, her boyfriend and brother are coming to visit. Hopefully, we can get to the village sometime during there visit. When dealing with two little girls 16 hands is better than two.

Since they are coming I have decided to make some brownies for them. Now I am no brownie guru, but I have learnt a few things about brownies (this is thanks to my wonderful husband who bought me The Best of Fine Cooking: Chocolate magazine).

Below are my brownie making tips and also a recipe for some brownies.

Baking brownies are kind of finicky. The type of pan you are using dictates how long the brownies will bake for. A glass pan will take longer where as a metal pan will have a short bake time.

There are three distinct kinds of brownies: chewy, fudgy and cakey, which one is your favourite?

A chewy brownie tends to have a bit more flour and a whole egg to give structure to the goodie.

A fudgy brownie is almost like fudge but less sweet and with a firmer texture. It is very chocolatey . An egg yolk helps add to the fudgy texture without the greasiness.

A cakey brownie is lighter than the other two brownies and has the most crumb. I has less butter than the other two as well. Although brownies are not known to use leaveners, cakey brownies will use them to achieve a fluffier texture.

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Chewy Brownies
(recipe adapted from The Best of Fine Cooking: Chocolate magazine)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 lb of dark chocolate
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coffee, cooled
  • 2 larger eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch processed)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare a 8 x 8 pan by buttering the sides and bottom, lining pan with parchment and then buttering the parchment. Set pan aside.

Cut butter and chocolate up into one inch pieces then place in a double boiler or medium metal bowl. Set bowl over simmering water and melt chocolate and butter.

Transfer chocolate-butter mixture in to a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high to slightly cool the mixture.

Once mixture has cooled slightly turn the speed to low and add the sugar, salt, vanilla and coffee.

With mixer still on low add eggs one at a time making sure each egg is blended before adding the next.

Add flour and cocoa. Mix on medium speed until smooth.

Transfer batter into prepared pan. Smooth out the top with spatula and place in preheated oven.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the top of the brownie is uniform in colour and when inserting a toothpick it comes out with a few crumbs.

Remove from oven and place on a wired rack; cool for about 10 minutes. Cut around the edges and flip upside down on to a cooling rack. Remove parchment paper and flip right side up and cool.

After an hour cut the brownies into 16 squares and place in a tupperware container. Refrigerate for a few hours. They taste better that way!

My hiatus

July 5, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I have been getting some not so nice comments lately on my blog.  I don’t know why anyone would do that but oh well.

The reason I haven’t posted anything new is because from December to early February I was on bed rest.  Also, my husband had to leave for training in February so my daughter are displaced individuals and have no where permanent to live and probably will continue to have no permanent living arrangements till August!

So it is quite disconcerting  to get mean, rude comments.  Because of these mean comments a person may not even be blogging anymore.  Furthermore, I have developed celiac disease so I can no longer consume wheat type products; thus I will have to try and develop gluten-free products for all those other people allergic to wheat.  I don’t even know why I bother blogging about this because I shouldn’t have to explain myself to the world.

First Post!

July 25, 2008 at 5:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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So this is my first post as a blogger and I guess I should tell you a little bit about myself.  I am a mother of a beautiful one year old girl who I will refer to as E.  She is a darling little girl who is always laughing.  My husband Ash is one of the most amazing people I have met.  As for me, I have recently graduated university and am currently living in beautiful British Columbia (Canada!)– although I am taking more classes next year!  I love to bake and cook, which is hard to manage in between being a new mother, a student, and a wife.

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