Saturday, 22 March 2014

Grapefruit Curd & Blackberry Filled Eclairs


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Good morning, Saturday!

In my recent days (read: weeks) procrastinating, I have been doing so by baking more. I fell off the horse for a while but I've managed to pull myself back on, if only temporarily. The stress that comes with having two online courses you're falling behind in + waiting for responses from five grad schools would drive any normal, functioning person to some sort of madness. For Emily, that's usually baking madness.

I've had a recent fixation with pink grapefruits. They've become one of my favourite things these past couple months as I wait out this long, long winter of ours. They're perfect, because although they're a winter fruit, they're bright, and vibrant and sassy and PINK. You just can't beat that when everything else is so grey.

So I got to thinking. I've seen lemon curd; that's a classic. And I've seen lime curd. and cranberry curd. Why not grapefruit curd? ... So I made some. I have to say, the sugar to juice ratio might be a bit off, considering the sweetness is almost overpowering of any grapefruit. But, it's still there. Next time, I'd just take the sugar down a notch or two.

What better way to use grapefruit curd than to stuff some eclairs and lighten them up a bit from the traditional heavy cream and chocolate. This is my first attempt at eclairs and they turned out lovely. It's really much easier than it looks, and doesn't take very long. I suggest giving it a shot.

The recipes I used were both from SprinkleBakes (I have her book- you should too.)


Sunday, 19 January 2014

Strawberry Vanilla Coffee Cake


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I know I always mention how it's been so so long since my last blog post but this time really takes the cake (heh). It's been two months! I have my reasons. While I have been cooking and baking just as often as usual, I am rarely documenting it, because of how busy my life has become. Let me explain:

I am currently working full time, dog-sitting, taking two university courses online, just finished applying to five grad schools, have taken up hot yoga twice a week, and am also trying to maintain some resemblance of a social life. I think so far I am succeeding admirably, and to be honest- I do enjoy my life this way. I like filling every minute with being productive, whether that means memorizing all the bones of the human body for a test or baking a cake. I strive to be productive every day, and I feel like I need to be to feel accomplished after a day, or a week. So cheers to a busy schedule.

Today, however productive, has not been filled with the usual school work. In fact, my coffee shop friends are probably confused as to why they don't see me hunkered over my laptop for eight hours today. But sometimes your brain just needs these breaks. So cheers to breaks as well, and cheers to cake breaks specifically.


I took this recipe from Averie Cooks, and made a couple slight adaptations. Overall, it is very simple and very adaptable to suit your needs & cravings. I used strawberries, as did the original recipe, but I suggest (and so does she) that you could also use any other type of fruit you'd like, or a mixture. Blueberries, raspberries, peaches, etc. would taste great in this. I also recommend sprucing it up a bit with some vanilla bean if you have any kicking around. I'm all out, but otherwise I would have.

Ingredients
For the Cake
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour*
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup sour cream** 
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups frozen or fresh strawberries, halved and loosely packed
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar, for sprinkling

*Modification: The original recipe only called for one cup of flour, but the batter seemed too soupy to me, so I added 1/3 cup more.
**Modification: I used full-fat vanilla greek yogurt.

For the Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze
about 3 ounces (about 1/3 cup) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar OR about 1 cup confectioners' sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan; set aside.
  2. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large mixing bowl and hand mixer), combine dry ingredients until well mixed, add all wet ingredients except fruit. Mix on medium speed for 1-2 min. Scrape down sides of the bowl and continue to mix until well incorporated. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
  3. Arrange strawberry slices uniformly over the top of batter (looks like a lot but they sink down and shrivel while baking).
  4. Evenly sprinkle with 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar.
  5. Bake at 400F for 30 minutes.
  6. Lower the temp to 375F and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until cake is golden and is set in the centre (use a toothpick or knife to ensure the batter is not wet still)
  7. Allow cake to cool in pan for about 10 minutes before removing from pan and turning out onto a rack to cool completely. While the cake cools, make the glaze.
  8. For the Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze - Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and beat until smooth, either with a whisk or a mixer. 
  9. Drizzle glaze over cake in big ribbons, going up and back, over the surface. I did this, and then ate what remained with a spoon- trust me, you will too.


Saturday, 16 November 2013

Modern Potato Salad


Is that not the most beautiful potato salad you've ever seen? "Plate-able and not scoop-able" as the Smitten Kitchen cookbook puts it, which is where I found this gem of a recipe. If you don't know Smitten Kitchen, you should. Every recipe I've tried is a winner. Last weekend, I made her "yogurt lime cake with blackberry sauce" that was perfect. Tart, sweet, moist. I will definitely be making that cake, and this salad again.

Here's her recipe:

Pickled Celery
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

Vinaigrette
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp whole grain mustard
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 small shallot, minced

- 1 pound fingerling potatoes, boiled until fork-tender & cooled
- 2 large eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and cut into quarters

+ any additional other toppings (I used arugula and parsley)

FIRST,
Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together and add the celery, let it soak for an hour in the fridge (the longer, the better)

SECOND,
Whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients and set aside. You can add in any additional spices or herbs you would like.

THIRD,
Assemble. Cut the potatoes in half, lay the potatoes down cut-side-up on a plate and drizzle the vinaigrette overtop. Top with pickled celery. Push the egg quarters through a fine mesh sieve yolk-first, to top the salad with egg-fluff :) ... Add any other additional toppings you'd like.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

London Fog Donuts




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Sunday just seems like the right day to be in the mood for a London Fog. Which is why, right after yoga this morning, I headed straight to the nearest coffee shop to pick one up. It's perfect for when you're not in a coffee mood but would still like something [caffeinated] to sip on.

If you don't know what a London Fog consists of, let me break it down for you:
                          - Strongly steeped earl grey tea
                          - Vanilla syrup/flavouring of some sort
                          - Steamed milk
            All conveniently stirred into one delicious cup. 

And as it so happens, I was near a David's Tea today, and picked up some "cream of earl grey"- essentially earl grey tea with vanilla. 

And behold, I've taken my recipe for cinnamon sugar donuts, and transformed it (by merely omitting the cinnamon, steeping the milk in earl grey on the stove first, and drizzling a lemon & vanilla bean glaze over top).

**You do need a donut pan if you'd like actual donuts, but I wouldn't doubt that making these in a muffin pan would have a similar effect.

If you'd like some earl grey in your life, here's the recipe:

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients
2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients
1 egg
1 1/4 cups milk (I used almond milk)- steeped in about 2 tbsp earl grey tea (or about two teabags)
  • I steeped mine for about 10 minutes in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, with a metal strainer of the loose tea leaves just resting in the saucepan. Try to make it as strong as possible.
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla

Glaze (Optional)
~1/2 cup powdered sugar
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 tsp lemon juice (fresh if possible)
1 tsp milk

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350*F

2. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined.

3. Pour mix into greased donut pan about 3/4 full.

4. Bake for approximately 15 minutes; remove from oven when toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

5. To make the glaze, simply combine all ingredients and drizzle over cooled donuts







Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Mac-n'-Cheese Stuffed Portobellos



Happy September, hello comfort-food.

I mean really, when don't we enjoy some heavy comfort food? But this comfort food has some funky twists to it. I used my mom's traditional macaroni and cheese recipe, but threw in some unexpected ingredients...

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED.

Sorry, I had to. But seriously, the cheese I used is extra old cheddar with whiskey hot mustard! WOAH. If I see something that incredible on the shelf in a grocery store, I can't help myself. Honestly it could have been $30.00 and I wouldn't have even cared (it wasn't though, thankfully).

So what goes well with whiskey, mustard, and extra old cheese? Macaroni noodles. And why not some mushrooms? Why not? I am definitely someone who has to have at least one vegetable in a dish, or else I feel hella guilty.

So here's the scoop:

You'll need...

2 cups uncooked macaroni (I opted for whole wheat)

White sauce
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp butter
2 cups milk (I used almond milk)
2 cups of a shredded cheese of choice + a bit extra for topping (my opinion= the stronger, the better)

Add in's
1 tsp hot dijon mustard
1 cup sliced mushrooms, lightly sautéed (I just used typical criminis)

& depending how many you want, portobello mushroom caps
--> you can just make a few if desired and cook the rest of the macaroni in a smaller baking dish.

So now what?

1. COOK the macaroni noodles. Drain & set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, and whisk in the flour (should be pasty)
3. Add in the 2 cups of milk, stirring well. Continue to stir (constantly) on medium heat until the sauce begins to thicken- this could take 5-10 min)
4. WHEN sauce thickens, add in your shredded cheese, and optionally your mustard & sliced mushrooms.
5. Stir in cooked macaroni & preheat oven to 350*F
6. Place your portobellos top-down on a baking sheet or dish, and spoon as much macaroni as you can on top of each, sprinkle with extra cheese.
7. Bake for 15-20 min, until cheese is bubbling and browning on top.

...eat. the next step is always eat.


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Strawberry Nesquick Cheesecake!




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Excuse me for the crap photography! I had to settle for an iPhone snapshot today.

Hello Mr.'s and Miss's.. (and Mrs.'s and Mz.'s).... I hope your day has been beautiful. Mine definitely had it's up's and down's... it's down's being waiting for almost three hours in the police station for a record check, and then walking out after only 2 numbers had been called in ONE hour! (I was still six away, I would have been there all night), BUT my up was this. This, beautiful, thing. Strawberry Nesquick cheesecake.

Did you ever have strawberry nesquick as a kid? Well I still do. On a regular basis. But that's beside the point. Sprinklebakes is one of my all-time fav's and she always has the greatest recipes. However, this one stood out. I actually couldn't find the powdered nesquick anywhere when I was originally going to make it about a year ago! Luckily, I have friends in high places and the lovely Laura from NYC was kind enough to seek it out and bring me it! Skip ahead a number of months and here we are- about 15 nesquick drinks and a cheesecake later, and the container is empty.

Here's the recipe...

Ingredients

CRUST
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup jimmies or non-pareils... (the rainbow sprinkles- either the little sticks or the tiny dots)
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, melted

FILLING
2 1/4 cups whipping cream
2 pkgs cream cheese (softened at room temp)
1 cup nesquick powdered mix
2 tbsp sugar

TOPPING
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
non-pareils (sprinkles)

DIRECTIONS
1. DO NOT PREHEAT YOUR OVEN BECAUSE THIS BABY IS A NO-BAKE! YAY!
2. Combine graham crumbs, salt, sugar & sprinkles in a medium sized bowl. Add melted butter and combine until fully incorporated.
3. Press mixture into the bottom & up the sides (using your hands) of a 8- or 9-inch spring-form pan. Set aside.
4. Using an electric mixer, mix the whipping cream until soft peaks form, then slowly add the cream cheese until all incorporated (there may be some little chunks still but no worries- no one even noticed).
5. Add (sift if possible) the nesquick mix and sugar and continue mixing until it is well incorporated.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust just until it reaches the top of where you've pressed the crust to.
7. Whip the remaining topping cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, and then continue to whip until stiff peaks form. At this point, you can either 'dollop' some whipped cream on in any fashion you like, or pipe on stars around the outside and centre.
8. Sprinkle some non-pareils on top :)
9. Set in the freezer for 4-6 hours or overnight. You want the cheesecake to be partially frozen when you cut it, but not totally, so remove about 30 minutes prior to serving, or you can keep it in the fridge for an hour or two.

**For easy removal from spring-form pan, soak a tea-towel in hot water and wring dry, then wrap it around the sides of the pan to thaw the sides from the pan. This will help when you release the sides.

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Protein Packed Veggie Chili


Not sure you could get more meat-free protein in this dish. This chili includes, as usual, a lot of beans. It also includes 'veggie ground' (a meat-free substitute for ground beef) and a ton of quinoa! Triple threat chili! This dish is also effortlessly vegan, provided you don't top it with a handful of cheddar. But I know you wouldn't, it's too good on it's own. ;)

Ingredients

1 red onion, sliced or chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 pkg veggie ground
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder (or fresh garlic if you have it handy)
1 huge can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 (small) can of tomato paste
1/2 cup red quinoa

Ok, here's where it gets tricky.

1. First, cook the onion and green pepper on medium heat in a large pot until fragrant & softened.
2. THEN add the spices & veggie ground and let cook for a couple more minutes.

3....THEN...literally add the rest in, one ingredient at a time (down my list). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for approximately 30 minutes.

Optional to top with avocado, cilantro and green onion!

TIP: Even better consumed the next day. It continues to thicken overnight.