Saturday, May 30, 2009
So here are the results!
To 'start' - mussels, shrimp and potatoes in a white wine sauce. To 'middle' - homemade tagliatelle with cremini and beef ragu, served with a medley of grilled and blanched seasonal veg. To 'end' - Rocky Road ice cream.
I'm afraid I didn't have time to make the waffle bowls, but it was delicious all the same, and we were pretty full.
I had a slightly comical experience making the pasta - I incorrectly guessed the recipe as 4 cups of flour and 4 eggs when in fact it is 2 cups of flour and 4 eggs. BIG difference! Lucky for me, I managed to catch my error in time and scooped up 2 cups of errant flour off my counter.
I had some issues timing it all - I should have boiled the potatoes well ahead of time instead of trying to do it before the seafood went in. There was quite a delay. And as a result, my pasta water was ready to go - so first and second courses had to be served simultaneously.
I love this picture (above), but I have learned that I really, really need to whip out my tripod more often. I tend to move around my food rather than angling the food for me - but shooting without flash means I sacrifice that lovely crisp sharpness. Anyway, another thing to test out for the next recipe.
I just finished a lovely book featuring an American pastry chef living in Paris, so I'm liberally sprinkling my limited French vocab when I can. I've gotten a lot of great recipe ideas from the book so I'll try and test a recipe out for y'all. He mentions chocolate...a lot. I'm having a craving for chocolate, GOOD chocolate (which can be hard to find). The best I've ever had was from a now-closed place called JS BonBons. I was gifted a box for a birthday and I always stopped by when I was in town (Toronto). Unfortunately, the lovely Jenn Stone has moved on to another project (I hope!) and as taken the best sea salt caramels with her. And the white chocolate lemon and thyme truffles. I'll never forget you.
I remembered that I have some Scharffen Berger goodies in my baking pantry and I took my sampler box back into my office and as I opened a carefully wrapped piece of milk chocolate, I (literally) moaned in delight - the chocolate was still perfect, 'un-bloomed' and crunchy. Oh lordy.
Monday, May 25, 2009
I've gotten the mothership to start saving egg yolks for me in preparation for the next batch of ice cream. I had tipped of T that I had a pound of Trader Joe chocolate up for use - it turns out that I had purchased the right 'colour' of packaging, but it contained almonds as well! (Dark chocolate with almonds, I wanted sans.) She offered to take the goods off my hands in the hopes of making cookies from them (as chips), but unfortunately, I beat her to it. I swear, I really was going to give her the chocolate, but then the realization that I could make Rocky Road ice cream hit! It's hard to find, no? I remember as a child - Rocky Road was as prevalent as vanilla, now...not so much.
This time I chopped up the chocolate (nuts and all) and melted it and incorporated it into the chocolate ice cream recipe listed a few posts back. Did I mention that I used about a tablespoon of instant espresso powder? It added a nice depth. In the process of making the ice cream, I had to strain out the nuts anyway (with any egg solids), but put them back in later. The chocolate with nuts actually made very good....very nutty ice cream! Mmmm...I bet a fruit 'n nut ice cream would be great. Vanilla base...with a hit of rum? Oh yes. She will be mine.
For those inquiring minds, I did not prefreeze the marshmallows and they still stayed pillowy soft. Lovely.
This ice cream will be the showcase at a small gathering of
University friends in a few days. I found a recipe for waffle cones - so I'm thinking, "asymmetrical waffle bowls, ice cream, and Grand Marnier caramel." The caramel, I bought at the recent food show - it's by Caramoomel a local specialty-foods company. They make an impressive line of different flavoured caramel spreads and dips. I was greedy and I tried every single flavour. If you ask me, I thought the Dulce de Leche was the best, but I already have DdL, so the Grand Marnier was the next-best thing.
I'll try and stop my guests from devouring the dessert before appropriate photos are taken.
Monday, May 18, 2009
My solution? Marshmallows. Actually, I had a bit of an inspiration last night - I imagined these little mini-marshmallows in my head and obsessed about how to make them into reality. I got to use my new 3Qt All-Clad casserole and it worked unbelievably well. I've used it before in savory cooking, but it controlled the temperature of the sugar syrup very well. And I didn't have to wait as long as I usually do! My only worry last night was whether I had enough gelatin (check) and sugar (barely - must get some more!).
3 envelopes unflavoured gelatin
1 cup water, divided
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup water and left soften while making the syrup.
Combine sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup of water in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved.
Bring to a boil , without stirring, washing any sugar crystals down side of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Use a candy/deep-fry thermometer to check the progress of the syrup. Boil until it hits 240F (soft-ball stage).
Remove from heat and let stand until bubbles dissipate.
With a mixer at low speed, pour hot syrup into gelatin in a thin stream down the side of the bowl.
Increase speed to high and beat until very thick (about 10-15 minutes). Add vanilla. Beat until the batter has become 'stringy' (like melted marshmallows!) and thick.
(in the original recipe, you butter and 'coconut' a metal baking pan, pour in and let stand for 2 hours - sprinkle top with coconut as well. After 2 hours, take out of pan, cut into squares and dredge in coconut.)
Spoon's additional method:
Prepare a piping bag fitted with a 1/2" round (or star) tip.
Take out a few cookie sheets and lay with Silpats/wax paper/parchment.
Pick 'rolling toppings' of your choice (different coloured sanding sugars, nonpareils, cocoa powder, instant espresso powder, icing sugar, coconut etc) and sprinkle in even and thin strips (about 3-4" wide) down the cookie sheet. This will coat the 'bottom' of your marshmallow strips.
Fill the piping bag with marshmallow 'batter' and pipe strips on top of the topping of your choice. At this point - you could gently sprinkle the topping on top of the strips - but you can let them set for 2 hours first.
Once the strips have set, gently and carefully roll the strips in the toppings. I dumped a whole bunch more on top of the strips and rolled them in that. Feel free to mix and match toppings as well. Once the strips are completely covered, use a small knife to cut (or kitchen shears to cut) the strips into bite-sized pieces. Roll these in the topping as well to cover all the sides.
Or....you could get creative.
As well as mini-marshmallows, I wanted to make 'mallow kisses and managed to pipe out a dozen or so. Cute, aren't they? They did 'melt' a little while setting, but overall, they kept their shape pretty decently. I would suggest that if you're interesting in making just kisses, I would beat the batter until it is very, very stiff so it will hold better.
Anyway, once these were set, I attempted to temper some chocolate (moderately-successful) and then coated the bottom and then sprinkled with toasted coconut.
Into the fridge to harden and voila! And by the way. Absolutely delicious.
I would perhaps recommend any brave souls wanting to attempt this recipe - perhaps dip homemade 'mallows in chocolate and roll in crumbled graham crackers or top with a graham cracker? (or any cookie for that matter)
There was a pimpin' recipe I found that involved a layer of marshmallow, caramel, and chocolate.....oh yeah...I'd do it on a shortbread or cookie crust too.
Explicit, NC-17 food porn, baby.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
c/o Darlene from allrecipes
The print-out date on my recipe is from 2006 -
but I have been churning out these babies since 2002.
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 375F.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until smooth.
Beat in the eggs and vanilla until fluffy.
Stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
Gradually beat dry ingredients into butter mixture.
Stir in oats and raisins.
Drop in mounds (then flatten gently) onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 8 - 10 (I used about 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop - 15 min bake time) minutes or until golden brown.
Cool slightly and remove onto cooling racks - cool completely.
I was at the T&J's the other night for our Deep Fry Party. Yes, you read that right. While preparing some sort of fried goodness, the J mentioned to me a food blog posting about the comparisons between Silpats and parchment. My better friends know me as a Silpat fiend. FIEND. I have been collecting Silpats since I was 16 and almost 10 years later, I have a pretty sizeable collection. When I used to work at the store - I could sell non-stick baking sheets that weren't even unpacked yet - seriously - I'd have to go to the back and dig them out myself. I believe in this technology and it has never let me down. But the J informed me that the test yielded interesting results - different textures for different baking surfaces. After witnessing my shocked expression, there was some light backpedalling - the superior baking surface of the Silpat is indeed non-stick, but the heat distribution is varied. Diff'rent stroke for diff'rent cookies, I guess.
So for these cookies I decided to test this out myself - half the batch was baked with Silpat mats, the other half - ungreased parchment. The results? No difference. Not after the first day, at least. I wish I had segregated them in my cookie jar somehow - perhaps after a day or two the differences would be more obvious - which cookie would hold a better crunch? What about flavour retention? I think a good test cookie would maybe be something like....a french macaroon? I'd like to see how a gougere would do as well. I'll let you know the results of future experimentations lead.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Spoon: "So, Mother's Day is Sunday - I'm going to make waffles - what do you want on top? strawberry sauce or strawberries?"
Mothership: "I want...strawberry sauce....AND strawberries AND whipped cream."
Spoon: "Anything else? Bacon? Eggs?"
Mothership: "I want you to teach me how to make those almond cookies!"
So last night, I gave my mother a lesson on how to prepare almond florentines. She needs a little more work on her whisking technique.
Yet in the end, she couldn't help but say...
"But can I use more egg white? I want more cookie...."
Spoon: "Like those almond cookies??!"
Mothership: "Yes! Exactly!"
You can't win 'em all.
Friday, May 8, 2009
I did practice a modicum of self-control, I only made a half portion (yield = 6 cupcakes) so I wouldn't be swimming in cake for the next week or so. Not that it's a bad thing.
(1/2 portion recipe, yield - 6 cupcakes)
4 tablespoons butter
1 oz chocolate, bittersweet, chopped
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350F
Prepare your choice of 8" cake pan (1), 6 cup muffin tin or
Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa. Melt and set aside.
Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a small bowl.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until broken up. Add sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until
Add chocolate and mix until incorporated.
Stir in dry ingredients alternately with sour cream.
Bake until a cake tester comes out clean - about 18-20min.
(adapted from Mrs.Milman's Frosting, c/o Martha Stewart)
6oz chocolate, chopped
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon corn syrup (oh $^!#. I totally forgot about this!!)
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (optional, my extra touch)
In a small saucepan, heat cream and chocolate over medium heat until thickened. About 20 minutes or so. Add corn syrup.
Let set in the fridge for about 2 hours until stiff enough to spread.
Before use, add extract and fold into frosting.
Do you like my cupcake liners? I was watching el Martha and she had some guests from Sweet Revenge bakery (New York, NY) and they use a similar technique with 'yellowed' parchment. This is also the way many Chinese bakeries bake their sponge cakes.
From a typical roll of parchment, unfurl a piece about 5" wide. Cut this strip (5 by 15 or so) into three, so ideally you will have three 'squares' or square-ish shapes. From each corner, cut a slit towards the centre (I am really losing it, I nearly spelled center "scentre") so it kind of looks like you have four 'triangles' merged together at their points. Do not cut all the way to the centre - you want to leave enough space between the cuts (in the middle) that is approximately the diameter of the bottom of your muffin tin. Carefully bring up the sides and overlap them so they form a cup. Carefully place into your muffin tin and fill with batter. I used a large ice cream scoop for equal distribution.
I have to be honest. I ate one frosted cupcake before I thought to put in the peppermint extract. Even for me, it was almost too chocolately. Next time, I will use a milk or semi-sweet in the frosting instead of the 72% dark. So I put in a bit of mint (amazingly- the smell of mint was wafting through the air to inspire me at that moment!) to lighten it up. I would say add as much as you like - I used about 1 teaspoon, but I could have doubled that easily since the chocolate packed so much punch.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
I also think it's almost time for the official blog launch. I've got a good amount of content up, but now it's to tweak the last bits of code I'm struggling with. I've widened the posting space a bit, but now I'm trying to get rid of that divider line up top and bottom.
So the cookie in question is c/o Martha Stewart (of course), the Cookie of the Month, July 2007. I was going through my back issues and archiving when this particular recipe caught my eye They're actually called Rum-Raisin Shortbread (who can resist??!!), it actually calls for currants instead. Results? Good! But they didn't soak up quite as much rum as expected, but I didn't want the taste of rum to be overwhelming, anyway.
(c/o Martha Stewart)
Makes about 4 1/2 dozen
1/2 cup dark rum
1 cup dried currants
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Combine rum and currants, cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of rum.
Beat butter, sugar, and orange zest together with a mixer until creamy and smooth. Add vanilla, reserved rum, and beat until combined.
Reduce speed to low and add flour, coconut, salt and beat for 3 minutes or so.
Add currants in by hand.
Form dough into 2 logs, each about 1 1/2" in diameter, wrap in parchment and chill until firm.
*I took a 7-8" section of waxed paper, blopped half of the batter down one end and rolled/molded it into a log and rolled it up. Repeat with other half of batter.
Preheat oven to 325F, remove parchment and slice logs into 1/4"-thick rounds and space about 1" apart on a baking sheet. Bake until pale golden, about 20 minutes (mine took about 30 min), let cool.
I could barely wait and I was snapping away while the cookies were still piping hot and barely holding together. I was trying to catch the last of the daylight!
Monday, May 4, 2009
Florentines are like macaroons - they come in so many shapes and forms. I have seen (and eaten) them with macadamia nuts, whole hazelnuts, coconut, chopped almonds, dipped, sandwiched, and mixed with orange and ginger. But what is a florentine, really? After some personal reflection a florentine = nuts + tuile batter = suspended in culinary science. There are so many recieps out there of different variations (chewy or crunchy? nutty or fruity?) it was hard to pick one to try.
During my mothership's art exhibition days,
she used to order baked goods from some lady (yeah, I know, "some" lady! Nevermind that she has her own in-house baker to churn out goodies - she has to outsouce! Be still my Kitchen-Aid whisking heart.) and in the order were these almond cookies. I admit, they were good. All tuile, very little cookie. A nice crunchy, thin, waffle-y type of tuile too. Almonds (not so generously) sprinkled throughout. I have never been able to successfully replicate this recipe. I just can't be stingy with the almonds. Oh well, another project for a rainy day.
I came across a new recipe on another food blog, Chocolate Fool , of a chocolate-dipped almond florentine. What I liked about this cookie was that it was more almond than tuile and it didn't hurt that they were liberally dipped and decorated with chocolate. The site, Chocolate Fool, is pretty awesome on its own and is worth a peruse. The recipe was adapted from one provided by David Lebovitz, dessert artist extraordinaire. Anyway, without further ado, I present to you:
Chocolate-Drizzled Almond Florentines!
c/o Chocolate Fool, c/o David Lebovitz
1 large egg white
1/3 cup icing sugar
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 ¾ cup sliced almonds (I used ‘regular’ vs blanched b/c they were cheaper, still good)
½ cup chocolate (for dipping/drizzling)
Preheat your oven to 300F. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment and lube or Silpat (or equivalent – pshaw!)
In a medium bowl, whip egg whites lightly and briefly until they are slightly frothy. Add the salt, sugar, zests, and almonds until combined.
Drop tablespoon-sized mounds onto the cookie sheet and spread the batter out gently with a fork or your fingers. You want a nice, even, and crunchy cookie, so spread it out in a thin layer.
Bake until golden brown. The original recipe said 10 minutes or so – but it took mine at least 20. Maybe it’s because they weren’t blanched? Anyway, keep your eye on them and take them out when they are golden on top.
Let cool completely on the cookie sheet.
Melt the chocolate drizzle or dip as you like.