The power of action

February 22, 2012 at 10:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The other day I went to a yoga workshop with the great yogi Patrick Creelman.

As I was sitting in the class, something he said really recenated with me. He talked about how we back off from things we don’t like or can’t do. It is such an obvious statement that often gets forgotten when on your on or off the mat.

And it is that statement that seems to be one of the threads that is conitinuosly stitched in the patchwork of my life.

On the mat, I have a fairly solid practice. Some days are more tiring than others but when my feet touch the mat I am present–except when it comes to headstand (shirshasana).

I don’t like trying headstand in the middle of the room (I like it against the security of the wall) because a kind of unknowingness creeps up. The big question: what if I fall?

But, it’s ok to fall. I know how to roll out of a headstand if need be. That doesn’t matter though. I back away and don’t try.

Off the mat, any type of difficulty I face makes me yield and turn away from it. Growing up, things generally came easy to me and if they didn’t, I wouldn’t do it and I would simply convince myself I wasn’t good at it. Maybe though, if I put in some effort I would have been good at it. I’ll never know. What I do know, however, is that I’m not going to turn away from difficulty anymore.

If I have trouble with something then I will trudge through it regardless of how long it takes me. If I fail I’ll try again. Failure won’t be something to be afraid of it will be something to be embraced and tackled.

The goals I set will be accomplished. The challenges I have will be mere speed bumps and I will do shirshasana without needing the wall.

I will.

Now, scones can sometimes be difficult. They can turn out hard and dry but this recipe is a great one if you’re tentative to try making them.

America’s Test Kitchen is great for beginner bakers because, although time consuming, it usually yields scrumptious food

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America’s Test Kitchen Scones

Ingredients:

  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), frozen whole
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (about 7 1/2 ounces), picked over (see note)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces), plus additional for work surface
  • 1/2 cup sugar (3 1/2 ounces), plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Method:
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Score and remove half of wrapper from each stick of frozen butter. Grate unwrapped ends on large holes of box grater (you should grate total of 8 tablespoons). Place grated butter in freezer until needed. Melt 2 tablespoons of remaining ungrated butter and set aside. Save remaining 6 tablespoons butter for another
use. Place blueberries in freezer until needed.

Whisk together milk and greek yogurt in medium bowl; refrigerate until needed. Whisk flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest in medium bowl. Add frozen butter to flour
mixture and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated.

Add milk mixture to flour mixture; fold with spatula until just combined. With rubber spatula, transfer dough to liberally floured work surface. Dust surface of dough with flour; with floured hands, knead dough 6 to 8 times, until it just holds together in ragged ball, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Roll dough into approximate 12-inch square. Fold dough into thirds like a business letter, using
bench scraper or metal spatula to release dough if it sticks to countertop. Lift short ends of dough and fold into thirds again to form approximate 4-inch square. Transfer dough to plate lightly dusted
with flour and chill in freezer 5 minutes.
Transfer dough to floured work surface and roll into approximate 12-inch square again. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over surface of dough, then press down so they are slightly embedded in dough.

Using a bench scraper or thin metal spatula, loosen dough from work surface. Roll dough, pressing to form tight log. Lay seam-side down and press log into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Using sharp, floured knife, cut rectangle crosswise into 4 equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet.

Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before
serving.

TECHNIQUE
GRATING BUTTER
Use the wrapper to hold the frozen butter while grating it on the
large holes of a box grater. Grate 4 tablespoons from each stick of
butter.

TECHNIQUE
FOLDING AND SHAPING THE SCONES
1. Fold dough into thirds (like a business letter).

2. Fold in ends of dough to form 4-inch square. Chill dough.

3. Reroll dough into 12-inch square. Press berries into dough.

4. Roll dough into jellyroll-like log to incorporate blueberries.

5. Lay log seam-side down and press into even 12 by 4-inch rectangle.

6. Cut dough into 8 triangular pieces.

Lazy Sunday

February 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Every Sunday I try and make a big Sunday breakfast because I’ve always dreamt of having those quaint moments with the family eating a nice, hardy breakfast and ruminating over the past week, the future and our never-ending dreams.

We have managed to pull it off, for the most part, since the New Year. I credit this to the waffle maker my parents got me for Christmas. I love waffles and Sundays have now been renamed Waffle Sundays in our household.

Throughout the past few weeks my husband and I have been experimenting with various waffle recipes but we seem to always come back to the Belgium Waffles I posted a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t until today that we discovered a new recipe to add to our waffle repertoire.

The other day, as I was searching everything waffles, I came across Waffleizer which is an insanely great website for waffle fanatics.

There was a waffle recipe for cinnamon buns in waffle form. Basically, you just grab Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, crack open the packaging and then press it in a waffle iron.

Since I didn’t want to go out and buy a pack of cinnamon buns I decided to make my favourite brioche cinnamon buns a la Flour.

After I had waffleized the cinnamon buns I drenched them in a cream cheese maple syrup mash up. Delicious.

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Cinnamon Bun Waffles

Cinnamon Bun Waffle recipe:

  • 1/2 batch of brioche (recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup (55 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method:

On a floured work surface, roll out the brioche into rectangle about 12 by 16 inches and 1/4-inch thick. It will have the consistency of cold, damp Play-Doh and should be fairly easy to roll. Position the rectangle so the long side is facing you.

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Starting from the longest side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. Try to roll tightly, so you have a nice round spiral.

Use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to cut the roll into 10 equal pieces. Place them in a baking dish and cover with plastic wrap overnight.

The next day, take out cinnamon buns and heat the waffle maker.  Once waffle maker is heated, place one cinnamon bun on the waffle iron and close it.  The time it cooks will depend on your waffle maker.  Mine cooked the cinnamon buns in a minute so I would recommend checking how the cinnamon bun looks after a minute.  You want to achieve a nice golden brown crust on it.

Carefully remove cinnamon bun waffle and place on plate.  Smoother with maple syrup or a maple syrup cream cheese mash up.

Enjoy!

Brioche Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups (350 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
  • 2 1/4 cups (340 grams) whole wheat bread flour
  • 1 1/2 packages (3 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (82 grams) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 3/8 cups (2 3/4 sticks; 310 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces

Method:

Using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose, whole wheat bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and the eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all the ingredients are combined. Stop the mixer, as needed, to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.

With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, 1 piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all the butter to be thoroughly mixed into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.

Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny, another 15 minutes. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at the start and then eventually it will turn smooth and silky. Turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. Test the dough by pulling at it; it should stretch a bit and have a little give. If it seems wet and loose and more like a batter than a dough, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together. If it breaks off into pieces when you pull at it, continue to mix on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until it develops more strength and stretches when you grab it. It is ready when you can gather it all together and pick it up in 1 piece.

Put the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof (that is, grow and develop flavor) in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight At this point you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

A waffle-lot of goodness

January 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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The New Year has come and I am sure many of you have made resolutions–I, however, had made none. I’m doing quite the opposite actually.

While most people resolve to lose weight, I am giving up on losing weight. In September 2009, after I had my daughter I was determined to lose all of the 80 lbs I gained. It’s now been over two years later and I’m still trying to lose ten more pounds and it’s not going to happen.

So I’ve come to accept and frankly I don’t really care (I actually kind of care) but there is nothing I can do about it. I really don’t like dieting and a recent article in the New York Times by Tara Parker-Pope called Fat Trap made me realize any short-time diet I attempt to wouldn’t allow me to maintain my once “ideal” weight in the long run.

The article basically says that our bodies fight against weight loss. If you are really adamant about losing weight the diet you choose needs to be a lifelong journey.

That’s not going to happen for me especially since I got a two-in-one waffle and omelette/pancake maker. Homemade Belgian waffles are the best. These aren’t the cardboard egos I ate as a kid. These are addictive. These are drool-worthy. These are simply delicious!

The recipe makes a lot of waffles so that they can be frozen and reheated for later.

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I topped mine with homemade candied bacon buttermilk ice cream

Belgian Waffles Recipe
Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 3/4 cups warm milk, divided
  • 3 eggs, divided
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

Method:
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm milk till foamy, about ten minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites just until stiff peaks form.

In a large bowl, mix together the egg yolks, 1/4 cup of the remaining milk, the melted butter and the sugar. Add the yeast mixture, salt, vanilla, and then alternate between the flour and remaining milk. Gently fold the egg whites into the waffle batter.

Cover the batter without touching it tightly with plastic wrap. Set bowl aside in a warm place to rise until it doubles in volume, about 1 hour.

Cook in a waffle iron according to manufacturer’s instructions.

I was able to make 10 waffles but the recipe says it should make 8.

Moustache Frenzy.

November 3, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I know I haven’t written on my blog for a long time. I still bake all the time and pawn my goodies off on the unexpecting.

The reason I haven’t blogged in a while is because I have the worst lighting in my house. I live right by the woods and have very few windows in the house so natural lighting is hard to come by. Thus, bad photos result and don’t help to motivate me to post.

But this month is a special month. My husband is participating in Movember.

When my husband decided to do this I made it clear that it couldn’t be just about the moustache.

So often I find that there is this new trend of passive activism. You see it on Facebook when people post “faux-activism” statuses. An example is ones about bra colours for breast cancer, which is great to promote awareness but more needs to be done.

That’s why I want my husband to not only participate in Movember to raise awareness but to also raise money.

This month everything I bake will be sold by donation at my husbands work.

The first baked good I made was moustache spice cookies topped with chocolate.

I made a moustache template with a piece of paper and cut out each cookie.

At the end of all the work moustache cookies were made…

and eaten.

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Autumn Spice Cookies (adapted from Bake at 350)

  • 3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c light brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk the flour, baking powder,spices and salt; set aside.

Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix until well-blended.

Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom. (The dough will be quite thick…you may need to knead in stray bits of flour from the bottom of the bowl by hand.)

Roll dough out in between two sheets of parchment paper and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and place them in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Bake in a preheated oven for 9-12 minutes, depending on the size of your cutter. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Parenting.

February 13, 2011 at 9:03 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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I am not sure about others but when I became a mother my kids became my world; or rather, my world became my kids. I wanted to be the best mother I could be which I thought meant that when they were awake I was to spend every waking minute with them to make sure that I wasn’t “failing” as a parent. Then, when they were asleep I would stay up till the late hours of the night doing housework.

Failure is something I can not endure and being a parent is hard work because you have a life depending on you. If my children have difficulties (psychological, social, or physical) when they are older, most likely it is because I did something wrong as their caregiver. And what is even scarier is that there is no real manual on how to parent. There are so many theories that are in vogue one day and then discredited the next. One could push their child to excel but that doesn’t always work out for the best (ie. John Stuart Mill and his depression or William James Sidis and his criminality and loneliness).

As for my parenting method; it, of course, resulted in not the greatest situation. I became overworked, tired and irritable. Happiness, or even contentment, would adorn me in moments with my children but it was fleeting. Something had to give.

I had nothing for myself anymore. My husband had skiing and biking to allow him a break but I was lost. If I did something away from the house when the kids were awake a deep weight of guilt hung on to me. But, like I said something had to give.

Breaking out of my comfort zone was a challenge but through the struggle came inner peace (as lame as that sounds). Running gave me independence and a sound mind; It afforded me the ability to let go of the stress. Then winter came.

As the winter matured so did my cabin fever and I started to go crazy. That is when I discovered the joys of yoga.

Yoga introduced me to a calmness in myself that I never thought existed. I am a self-proclamined type A personality; however, yoga just allowed me to be. In the end, I realized that the key to being a good parent is to be content and to transfer those feelings to the children. Contentment can be found in many ways, and it’s important to take time to yourself and enjoy those moments.

Obviously, there are a lot more attributes that comprise a good parent but I truly believe that inner-contentment is the foundation to, not only successful parenting, but successful being. It has been a journey, but I’ve found mine. Good luck in finding yours!

Now to today’s recipe, Pain au Chocolat (which are also known as chocolate croissants).

Practicing yoga has made me appreciate the joy in little things and living in the moment. Taking the time to lament dough is one of those little moments I appreciate. I actually find it relaxing, if not cathartic, pounding the butter into a pad and then folding the dough. This recipe is from Gourmet and the pain au chocolat turned out great. The only thing I change was coating the dough with some egg wash before baking.

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Croissant Dough
Gourmet | October 2000
by Nancy Silverton

ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, heated to warm (105°F–110°F)
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (from two 1/4-oz packages)
  • 3 3/4 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) cold unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • A few chocolate bars (be creative, I used dark chocolate with almonds and milk chocolate with carmel bits)
  • One egg beaten with one tablespoon of water

Method

Make dough:
Stir together warm milk, brown sugar, and yeast in bowl of standing mixer and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If it doesn’t foam, discard and start over.) Add 3 3/4 cups flour and salt and mix with dough hook at low speed until dough is smooth and very soft, about 7 minutes.

Transfer dough to a work surface and knead by hand 2 minutes, adding more flour as necessary, a little at a time, to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. Form dough into a roughly 1 1/2-inch-thick rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until cold, about 1 hour.

Prepare and shape butter:
After dough has chilled, place a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter.  Arrange sticks of butter horizontally, their sides touching, on plastic wrap and sprinkle the 3 tbsp of flour over the butter.  Then, cover butter with another piece of plastic wrap.  Pound butter with a rolling pin to soften slightly (butter should be malleable but still cold). Scrape butter into a block and then recover with plastic wrap. Pound and roll out on both sides until butter forms a uniform 8- by 5-inch rectangle. Chill, wrapped in towels, while rolling out dough.
Roll out dough:
Unwrap dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface, dusting with flour as necessary and lifting and stretching dough (especially in corners), into a 16- by 10-inch rectangle. Arrange dough with a short side nearest you. Put butter in center of dough so that long sides of butter are parallel to short sides of dough. Fold as you would a letter: bottom third of dough over butter, then top third down over dough. Brush off excess flour with pastry brush.
Roll out dough:
Turn dough so a short side is nearest you, then flatten dough slightly by pressing down horizontally with rolling pin across dough at regular intervals, making uniform impressions. Roll out dough into a 15- by 10-inch rectangle, rolling just to but not over ends.
Brush off any excess flour. Fold in thirds like a letter, as above, stretching corners to square off dough, forming a 10- by 5-inch rectangle. (You have completed the first “fold.”) Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, 1 hour.
Make remaining “folds”:
Make 3 more folds in same manner, chilling dough 1 hour after each fold, for a total of 4 folds. (If any butter oozes out while rolling, sprinkle with flour to prevent sticking.) Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill at least 8 hours but no more than 18 (after 18 hours, dough may not rise sufficiently when baked).

Roll out and cut dough:
Cut dough in half and chill 1 half, wrapped in plastic wrap. Roll out other half on a lightly floured surface, dusting with flour as necessary and stretching corners to maintain shape, into a 16- by 12-inch rectangle. Brush off excess flour with pastry brush and trim edges with a pizza wheel or sharp knife.

Arrange dough with a short side nearest you. Cut in half horizontally and chill 1 half. Cut remaining half vertically into thirds, forming 3 rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half to make 2 smaller rectangles, for a total of 6 rectangles.

Shape pain au chocolat:
Place some chocolate in the middle of a rectangle.  Fold the two sides of the rectangle over the chocolate and then flip over so that the seam is underneath.

Repeat with remaining rectangles.

Let pain au chocolat rise:
Slide each baking sheet into a garbage bag, propping up top of bag with inverted glasses to keep it from touching croissants, and tuck open end under baking sheet.

Let rise until slightly puffy and spongy to the touch, 1 to 2‚ hours.

Bake:
Adjust oven racks to upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 425°F.

Remove baking sheets from bags and brush egg wash on pain au chocolat. Spritz inside oven generously with spray bottle and close door. Put pain au chocolat in oven, then spritz again before closing door. Reduce temperature to 400°F and bake 10 minutes without opening door.

Switch position of sheets in oven and rotate sheets 180°, then reduce temperature to 375°F and bake until pain au chocolat are deep golden, about 10 minutes more.

Remove from oven and let cool.

Dan Tat.

February 7, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Gung Hei Fat Choi!

I realize I am late but my Chinese-self still felt the need to wish everyone a happy new year. There is a reason that I wasn’t able to do a Chinese New Year post or a prior to Chinese New Years post.

My girls were sick.  Actually, they have been sick on-and-off since December.  The details are not ones to share on a food blog but I will say that I never want the stomach flu to infect our household again.

So my Chinese New Years was spent in the kitchen panicking and sweating profusely as I prepared dinner.  It’s all a blur now but I can remember crying, screaming, and being so tired collapsing on the kitchen floor into deep slumber.  I should clarify that those were the actions of my child/ren and not mine though the thought of throwing a tantrum and sleeping on the warm kitchen floor was tempting.

Regardless of the struggles, Chinese dinner was severed (with the help of my sister-in-law and mother whom I am extremely thankful for).  We had a feast of won-ton soup, cantonese flat rice noodles, General T’so chicken, sweet and sour pork, beef lettuce wraps and char siu (from BBQ Master in Richmond, BC).  Oh, and, of course, my favourite staple jasmine rice.

Dessert was simple yet satisfying.  I made a pineapple upside-down cake for my dad who doesn’t generally prefer asian desserts.  As for everyone else I made dan tats or, rather, egg tarts.

Dan tats are a favourite Chinese dessert of my mother which is comprised of, generally, a shortcrust shell filled with an egg custard.  They are quite simple and fast to make.

Celebrate the year of the rabbit and take pleasure in the little joys of life like dan tats.

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Dan Tat/Chinese egg tart (adapted from My Kitchen Snippets)

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 125 gm. unsalted butter, softened
  • 60 gm. confectioners sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 200 gm. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Egg Custard

  • 280 gm. milk
  • 110 gm. granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Method
For the pastry:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin tin by buttering or spraying tins with oil.

In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat butter and icing sugar till well mixed.

Add in the egg yolk and vanilla and mix until combined.

Slowly add flour and mix until dough comes together.

Cover dough with plastic wrap and cool in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Once ready, grab about 2-3 tablespoons of dough and flatten into a disc with hands. Place disc in muffin tin to form a tart shape. Repeat until dough has been all used.

Bake the tart shell till half-cooked. This will take about 10 min. The pastry should turn white and slightly brown on the edges.

Remove from the oven.

Turn the oven heat down to 325 degree in order to bake egg custard.

For Egg Custard:

In a small saucepan set over medium heat, stir together sugar and milk until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and make sure milk does not boil.

Whisk eggs and then stir them into milk mixture. Add vanilla; combine.

Pour custard into tart shell and bake till custard sets about 20-30 minutes. Custard will be slightly jiggly when done.

Remove done tarts from oven and cool on wire rack.

Compromise on the pies

December 22, 2010 at 7:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I guess I should admit something.  I am a really picky eater.  I have a list of foods in which I won’t eat and another list of foods I won’t even try.  A fan of mushrooms I am not.  Tomatoes? No way!  And don’t get me started on any kind of red meat other than beef.

But the worse of all is pumpkin.  Every autumn and winter pumpkin is seen everywhere creeping its orange goopey-ness into everything from soup to muffins to pies!  I love pie but for at least a decade now I have been deprived from them during the winter holidays because of that menacing squash!

No longer will I stand for a lack of pie consumption during Christmas!  I do, however, understand peoples affinity for a staple (in this case the dreaded pumpkin pie) so I decided on a comprise–sweet potato pie.

When I told my husband I was making sweet potato pie he thought it was a savoury dish and not dessert.  It seems not many people here in this part of Canada have tried sweet potato pie. I believe, that it isn’t that common a dessert in American save the south.  Since I love southern food I thought why not.  Sweet potato pie it was.

Sweet potato pie is similar to pumpkin pie as it uses a lot of the same spices that you will find in pumpkin pie.  Sweet potato pie, however, is a bit lighter, less dense and more importantly not pumpkin.

I chose this recipe because I liked the ingredients the most and I had everything on hand.  What are you waiting for, give sweet potato pie a try!

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Sweet Potato Pie

from Ruth Reichl’s Comfort me with Apples

2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dark rum (I omitted this)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (I omitted this)
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell (I used my favourite pie dough recipe)

Method

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and roast them on a shallow baking pan in the middle of the oven until very tender, about 1 1/4 hours. Cool to room temperature. (If preparing the night before, transfer sweet potatoes in airtight container and refrigerate).

Raise the oven temperature to 400°F, and place a shallow baking pan on the bottom rack.

Scoop the flesh from potatoes into a bowl and discard the skins. Mash the sweet potatoes with a fork until smooth. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the sugar. Add the melted butter mixture to the sweet potatoes with the milk and the eggs and beat with a whisk until smooth. Whisk in the remaining ingredients (the filling will be quite liquid).

Pour the filling into the pie shell.

Carefully transfer the pie to the heated shallow baking pan on the bottom rack of the oven and bake until the filling is just set, about 40 minutes.

Transfer the pie to a rack to cool.

Sometimes Downers can be a good thing.

November 23, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Wow, my last post was probably one of the most dull posts that ever was. All I can say is that I am very sorry. I don’t know what is wrong with me but I have been feeling extremely drained for the past two weeks.

This exhaustion that I am experiencing is odd because I have always been someone who needs very little sleep. Oh well, such is life I suppose so I shall trek on.

The weather in Whistler has been getting colder and colder. Last night, while I wasn’t sleeping, I heard the constant howling of the wind and rattling of the trees outside. Just the sounds alone sent chills throughout my body. Today, however, didn’t feel so cold so my daughters and I wrapped ourselves up in layers of clothing and ventured out to the market.

At the grocery store we scored some great deals, which included fresh organic cranberries. In light of the upcoming American Thanksgiving I decided to bake a recipe I saw a few months back. To my surprise many other food blogs posted the same recipe today–collective food conscience perhaps? Whatever the case this would be a great dessert alternative for the standard pumpkin pie.

The recipe was featured as a Tuesday’s with Dorie choice in september. I won’t retype the recipe here but, rather, direct you where you can find it (Superfluous: TWD- Cranberry Upside-Downer).

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Whether you are in America celebrating the holidays or in Canada give this recipe a try. It is sure to be a hit and proves that sometimes Downers can be a good thing.

Busy Me

November 7, 2010 at 9:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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I bake a lot. I clean a lot. I generally do a lot–at least that is what most people tell me. I often hear “How are you able to do all this stuff?” Honestly, I just don’t like doing nothing (paradoxical I know) or what my husband likes to refer to as relaxing.

As far as I can remember, I have always been keen on doing something as opposed to just sitting around. When I was in secondary school I would finish assignments 2 weeks in advance. At university I felt like I wasn’t busy enough so I took a full load of summer courses and once, during the normal school year, I took 14 courses.

When I became a stay-at-home mom I had a huge void of activity in my life. During nap times and bed times I was at a loss. My husband would constantly tell me that I should just go to bed to get some rest. The problem with that, however, is if I go to bed early I will generally wake up 5 to 6 hours later. I, unlike my husband, do not like my sleep.

So when my husband and children are sleeping and the house is clean and the laundry is folded there is only one more option: baking! Generally, I have no one to bake for but this Sunday I was invited to a baby shower. The items I decided to bring were macarons filled with chocolate cream cheese frosting, buckeyes and a cake.

America’s Test Kitchen is turning out to be my favourite source of recipes. Every recipe I have made from there has proven to be a winner and their yellow cake recipe is no exception. I loved that it didn’t dome in the centre so that it provided a nice even cake and the crumb was nice and tender. I iced the cake with one of my favourite frosting recipes from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. I filled the middle with chopped up mini hershey cookies and cream and milk chocolate bars (what can I say, I had a bunch of left over hallowe’en candy).

Rich and Tender Yellow Cake
from America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs , room temperature
  • 1/2cup whole milk , room temperature
  • 2teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2cups granulated sugar
  • 2teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2pound unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
  • each stick cut into 8 pieces

Method

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350
degrees. Generously grease two 9-by-1 1/2-inch cake pans with
vegetable shortening and cover pan bottoms with rounds of parchment
paper or wax paper. Grease parchment rounds, dust cake pans with
flour, and tap out excess.

Beat eggs, milk, and vanilla with fork in small bowl; measure out 1
cup of this mixture and set aside. Combine flour, sugar, baking
powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle
attachment; mix on lowest speed to blend, about 30 seconds. With mixer
still running at lowest speed, add butter one piece at a time; mix
until butter and flour begin to clump together and look sandy and
pebbly, with pieces about the size of peas, 30 to 40 seconds after all
butter is added. Add reserved 1 cup of egg mixture and mix at lowest
speed until incorporated, 5 to 10 seconds. Increase speed to
medium-high (setting 6 on KitchenAid) and beat until light and fluffy,
about 1 minute. Add remaining egg mixture (about 1/2 cup) in slow
steady stream, about 30 seconds. Stop mixer and thoroughly scrape
sides and bottom of bowl. Beat on medium-high until thoroughly
combined and batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds longer.
(To mix using hand mixer, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt
in large bowl. Add butter pieces and cut into the flour mixture with a
pastry blender. Add reserved 1 cup of egg mixture; beat with hand
mixer at lowest speed until incorporated, 20 to 30 seconds. Increase
speed to high, add remaining egg mixture, and beat until light and
fluffy, about 1 minute. Stop mixer and thoroughly scrape sides and
bottom of bowl. Beat at high speed 15 seconds longer.)

Divide batter equally between prepared cake pans; spread to sides
of pan and smooth with rubber spatula. Bake until cake tops are light
golden and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25
minutes. (Cakes may mound slightly but will level when cooled.) Cool
on rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around pan perimeter to loosen. Invert
cake onto large plate, peel off parchment, and re-invert onto lightly
greased rack. Cool completely before icing.

Boiled Frosting
adapted from Baked

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cream
1 1/2 cups butter, softer but cool. cut into small pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method
In a medium heavy bottom saucepan whisk together the sugar and flour. Add the cream and milk to the sugar-flour mixture and cook over medium heat. Whisk often and cook until mixture comes to a boil and thickens (approx. 20 minutes).

Pour mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer that is fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce speed to low and add butter. Mix until butter is thoroughly incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy and add vanilla extract.

If frosting is too soft, transfer the bowl to the fridge and chill slightly, then beat again until the proper consistency. If it’s too firm, place bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it’s the proper consistency.

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Pink Cake with chocolate writing

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Green Macarons

The value of a virtue

October 27, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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My husband often tells me that I am too intense, which can result in my being impatient.  I have always admitted that I am a Type-A personality.  When I need something done it needs to be accomplished right away.  This philosophy translates into most faucets of my life–exercising, work and even baking.

(Side note: rushing and impatiences are also how I cut off half my finger last week but that is a story no one wants to hear).

The opportunities I have to bake are fleeting.  I usually need to get things done fast or I will be left with half-baked goodies and two weeping children tugging at my limbs. The only problem with my quick forging baking technique is that I get muddle headed and I won’t mix something enough or even worse–I’ll forget an ingredient (sugarless treats are not a pleasant surprise).

Today, however, was a day of change. The girls were content with playing in my pantry and “baking.” So I thought that I would make some macarons. I carefully weighed out all the ingredients ahead of time. I took time to whip the eggs at a slow speed and for them to become glossy and stiff.

Somedays taking time and really relishing in an activity is the most calming and satisfying moment (well, aside from taking that first bite of a delicious macaron).

I made a cinnamon macaron with cream cheese filling for my husband who has been requesting them for the past month.

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Cinnamon Macarons with Cream Cheese filling
adapted from Not So Humble Pie and Baked

yields 50 macarons

Ingredients

  • 60g almond meal
  • 100g powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 50g egg whites
  • 15g granulated sugar
  • food coloring gel
  • Cream Cheese filling (recipe below)

Method

Line 1 heavy gauge aluminum baking sheets with parchment. Prep a piping bag with a round tip.

Sift almond meal, powdered sugar and cinnamon to remove any clumps. (If you own a food processor, I highly recommend blending the almonds and powdered sugar and then sifting.)

Weigh out the egg whites into a large mixing bowl (stainless steel or copper), if you’re using stainless feel free to add a pinch of salt, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or couple drops of lemon juice to help strengthen the whites. If you’re using copper you need not and should not add any additional acid.

Weigh out the granulated sugar.

Begin beating the eggs on low speed. What you’re doing here is unraveling the egg white’s proteins (these are what will capture the air bubbles you whisk in), they’re bundled up and you need to gently unwind them. A light touch does this far better than scrambling them on high speed. Once the egg whites are very foamy, begin sprinkling in the sugar as you beat. Increase the speed to medium, if necessary, and beat the meringue to stiff glossy peaks. (If they start looking grainy, clumpy or dry you’ve gone too far.)

Add the food coloring (for the full recipe it usually takes 2-4 drops of gel, for a half batch 1-2 drops does the trick) and mix.

Add about 1/4 of the almond/sugar mixture and fold in until no streaks remain. Continue to add the almond mixture in quarters, folding until you reach the proper batter (the consistency of molten lava).

Pour the batter into your prepared piping bag and pipe rows of batter (dollops a little bigger than a quarter) onto the baking sheets, giving them space to spread.

Tap the pan on the counter to bring up any air bubbles and quickly pop them with a toothpick.

Allow the cookies to rest on a level surface for 30-60 minutes. Until they are no longer tacky to a light touch.

While they rest, place an oven rack in the lower 3rd of your oven and preheat to 280°F.

Bake the cookies for 16-20 minutes.

Remove the cookies from the sheet soon after removing from the oven. If they’re very sticky you may need to allow them to cool a little but ideally they’ll have good bottoms and you can lift them right off the paper immediately.

Once cool fill with prepared filling.

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Cream Cheese Filling
Ingredients
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

Sift sugar into medium bowl and saet aside.

In a bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter until completely smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until combined.

Add sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Be careful not to overbeat the filling, or it will lose structure. (Filling can be made 1 day ahead. Cover the bowl tightly and put it in the refrigerator. Let the filling soften at the room temperature before using.)

Assembling the macarons

Match the shells according to size. Place macarons on their back (feet up) and pipe a dollop of filling in the centre and put other shell on top pressing down slightly. Repeat until all shells are used.

Store in an air tight container and let mature for 24-hours to achieve best macarons.
 

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