Category Archives: dessert

Old and New Meals, Again

Nothing too exciting happening in the kitchen. I made an attempt at a type of hand shaped pasta, called strascinati rigati, using a sushi rolling mat, but the results were a bit disappointing. Next time, I’d roll the pasta much thinner and cut smaller pieces for shaping. I’d also cook them fresh rather than drying them. Taste wise … well, it’s pasta with a home made marinara sauce. Tasty but nothing to write home about.

The pasta on the left was made only with all purpose flour while the pasta on the right used half fine ground semolina flour as well.

Once again, the freezer is providing the start of some great meals … leftover pork ribs (remember that blueberry bbq sauce) with purchased hash brown patties.

And pulled pork sandwiches with roasted potato wedges.

I had a sirloin steak in the freezer so I thawed it out, seared it in a cast iron frying pan and served it rare. Simple but delicious with mashed potatoes, carrots and salad. There was enough steak leftover for a steak sandwich too.

I had a bit of a chocolate craving so I whipped up some blender chocolate mousse/pot de creme, flavoured with orange liqueur (Cointreau), to pour into a couple of prebaked pastry shells from the freezer. I had visions of something like a chocolate cream pie but since the shells had shrunk so much, not much of the mousse fit into the shells. So, I poured most of the mousse into a couple of ramekins and topped them with a dollop of whipped cream.

I should have let the pies set a bit longer before cutting into them but I couldn’t wait. (Sorry for the poor lighting in the first picture.)

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Barbie’s Super Simple Oatmeal Cookies (with Coconut)

I enjoyed the taste of the last batch of oatmeal cookies that I made … but the ‘look’ didn’t thrill me.

These, on the other hand, are very photogenic. And they taste good as well. Not overly sweet … next time, I’d use half the amount of salt though cause the margarine, which I used instead of butter, was salty enough.

This recipe also came out of Edna Staebler’s “Cookies and Squares with Schmecks Appeal”. The kitchen was a bit warm for September (77 deg F) so, by the time I had mixed up the dough and started shaping it into 1 inch sized balls, my dough was pretty sticky. I persevered and then refrigerated the resulting cookie balls.

After 30 minutes, I used the back of a fork to press down gently on the cookie balls in order to flatten them and baked the cookies for 14 minutes, instead of the 12 minutes recommended, in a preheated 350 deg F oven. I left the baked cookies on the baking sheet to cool for about 10 minutes, before using a thin metal spatula to transfer them onto the cooling rack, to finish cooling.

Blue Monday … Blueberry BBQ Sauce and Blueberry Hand Pies

Happy Labour Day US/Canada!

Two ‘blue’ themed dishes for the last day of the summer holidays.

And a link to a song that just says it all.

Blueberries have been on sale for the last couple of months so I tossed a couple of clamshells in the freezer … for later.

Well, later has come, and I started with a marinade/bbq sauce for the strip of pork ribs I found in the basement freezer. I took the lazy route and didn’t saute an onion and garlic, as I should have. Instead, I added a tablespoon of dry minced onion and a few shakes of garlic powder to a bbq recipe I found on the Blueberry Council website. It was a lot looser than I wanted even after I simmered it uncovered (and unattended) for a while. You might want to hang around the kitchen and stir it every few minutes so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom and scorch.

Pork ribs before and after marinating and baking

Dessert also featured that juicy blue fruit. Hand pies using a recipe posted on one of the FB groups I belong to.

The pastry was tender and delicious but, even baking it an additional 10 minutes, didn’t brown the whole egg glazed tops as much as I wanted. And, during that extra 10 minutes, all of the hand pies burst open and oozed their tasty filling over the baking sheet. Luckily I had lined it with parchment paper so I didn’t have a mess to clean up. I plan on upping the temperature to 400 deg F, and cut steam vents in the top. (NOTE: Just had a chance to touch base with the recipe poster and she mentions that she now does both those things.)

I had halved the filling recipe because I only had two cups of blueberries, but I had more filling than I needed for the hand pies I made, so I made a mini pie with the surplus. And the extra pastry was shaped into three mini pie shells and blind baked. Disappointingly they shrank quite a bit, even though I refrigerated them before baking. When I serve the mini blueberry pie and decide what to fill those shells with, I’ll share pics.

Labour Day Meal

August/Summer Wrap-Up … Butter Saffron Basmati Rice and Pepperoni Pizza Sourdough Bread Loaf

PICTURE HEAVY WARNING

Summer has been much too short. Of course, I didn’t get much accomplished. In fact, I can’t even remember the semi-ambitious plans I had made.

Next year, I’m going to have to make and post a list of To Do‘s to keep me on track.

I hope work calls are more frequent this fall than last year and that my insomnia doesn’t flare up again. Going to bed at 5am is a bad habit and I need to get my sleep patterns back on track if I keep getting 6am phone calls to work.

And now, for a quick clear out of dishes I’ve cooked and pictures that I haven’t shared in August. Posting should slow  down quite a bit as work starts again.

I made butter saffron basmati rice with which to serve some leftover green chicken curry.

Butter Saffron Basmati Rice – ~3 cups

1 cup basmati rice
1 1/3 cup water
1 tbsp butter, unsalted
1/2 tsp salt

Saffron garnish
pinch or two of saffron threads
2 tbsp boiling water

Combine the boiling water and the saffron threads in a small bowl/ramekin and set aside.

Cooking the rice:

Wash the rice in several changes of cold water and then pour into a colander and drain.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and then add the drained rice. Saute for a minute or two. Add the water and salt to the saucepan and bring to the boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to the minimum setting on your stove and cover.

Cook for 20 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the rice continue to steam for another 5-10 minutes.

Fluff with a fork. Every rice grain should be separate from every other. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle the saffron over the top.

Serve.

I tested the suggestion that using bread flour instead of all-purpose flour in my sourdough baking would give me better oven spring. The result did not bear that out but as I made some other changes to my ‘go to’ no-knead sourdough recipe, they’re not conclusive. The add-ins (1 oz diced hot pepperette, 1 tbsp tomato paste, 1 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, 2 oz shredded mozzarella cheese, and 1 tsp Italian herb seasonings), at least, gave me a very tasty, if flat, oval loaf of pepperoni pizza bread.

It was great as a dip for marinara sauce and toasted or plain, with butter, peanut butter or as a base for an open faced egg salad sandwich.

 

Mushroom and Tofu Egg Drop Miso Soup – It’s hard to take a nice picture of miso soup

A shrimp appetizer

Shrimp and Mushroom Scampi over home made Fettuccine pasta

Some breakfasts/lunches

 

Spicy pepperoni and mozzarella cheese stuffed omelette

Sourdough tortilla pizzas have been appearing often on my plate – from the classic pepperoni/mozzarella, with or without sweet peppers, Canadian bacon and fresh basil to pulled pork/bbq sauce to shrimp or mushroom on a base of shiso pesto. A bacon and mozzarella pizza made today isn’t pictured.

 

 

I was sure I had some fudgy chocolate cupcakes in the downstairs freezer for a quick dessert (even had a frosting idea that I was excited about) but then I had to scramble for a new plan when I discovered that I had eaten them all up, and all that was left were nine red velvet cupcakes. Making a cream cheese frosting was my immediate thought and, after weighing what was left of the last brick of Philly cream cheese (77 gm) in  my fridge, I searched my hard drive for one of the many ‘one day, I must try this’ frosting recipes that I could scale down. I was very pleased with the result … a thick, pipeable frosting with a touch of lemon juice to cut through the cloying sweetness of so many cream cheese frostings.

The last of the raspberry cupcakes with raspberry curd

Basic Vanilla Cupcakes … Raspberry (and Blueberry) Cupcakes and Curd

Buying boxes of white or yellow cake mix is tempting, especially when they’re on sale.

It’s convenient and then you can dress up your cupcakes as you want. However, a basic vanilla cupcake batter can be whipped up fairly quickly, especially with a bit of planning. And, those boxes make enough batter for a two layer cake or two dozen medium cupcakes.

With this recipe, you only make enough batter for a single layer cake or, a dozen cupcakes. A lot less to find room for in your refrigerator freezer. And you’re not tempted to eat them all before they go bad when you’re on your own.

Blueberry cupcakes with lemon curd

Raspberry Vanilla Cupcakes – makes 1 dozen medium cupcakes

< 1/2 cup (100 g) butter, at room temperature, diced in 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour (or 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt)
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed (or blueberries, strawberries**, blackberries)

** If using strawberries, wash, hull and cut into 4 to 6 pieces depending on size.

Preheat oven to 350 deg F/ 170 deg C line 12 medium muffin tins with paper cases.

Using electric beaters, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Fold in half the flour, then all the milk, then the remaining flour, until just combined. Gently fold through the raspberries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 20 mins, or until the cakes are springy to a light touch. (A toothpick inserted in the center will come out cleanly. ) Leave the cupcakes in the muffin tin for 5 mins, then transfer the cupcakes onto a wire rack to cool.

When it came time to add the fruit, because I had bought both blueberries and raspberries, I decided to split my batter in half and add half the amount of fruit to each part. Now I have cupcakes with two different kinds of fruit.

The fruit was part of a sale of three 6 ounce packages for $5. The choices were blueberries, raspberries and strawberries but I passed on the latter and grabbed two packages of the raspberries so that I could make raspberry curd with one and still have some to eat straight or bake with.

Citrus curds are common, but you can use berries to make curds, as well, as long as you add some lemon juice.

Raspberry Curd Pavlova

Raspberry Curd – makes ~ 1 1/2 cup

6 oz/170 gm raspberries
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cups sugar
4 large egg yolks
2-3 tbsp unsalted butter

In a food processor or blender, whirl raspberries with lemon juice until pureed. Pour into a fine strainer set over a measuring cup. Stir with a spoon to force pulp through strainer; discard seeds. You should end up with a total of about 3/4 cups of lemon/raspberry juice.

In a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, combine juice, sugar and egg yolks.

Whisk the mixture and cook until thickened. (If you dip a wooden spoon into the mixture, you’ll be able to run a finger through the middle leaving a clean track on the back.) Strain to remove any cooked pieces of egg or missed seeds.

Refrigerate until cold and thick.

Basic Breakfast Quinoa and Nectarine Murabba/Compote

I don’t eat breakfast, as I generally don’t have time to do so, but this basic ‘porridge’ recipe inspired by Martha Stewart, featuring quinoa, might solve that problem in the future.

Basic Breakfast Quinoa

Basic Breakfast Quinoa – serves 4

1 cup quinoa
2 cups milk, whole or 2%
1/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
pinch or two of ground cinnamon

Fruit Add-ins – amounts are rough estimates
1/4-1/3 cups dried fruits like apricots, cranberries, dates, raisins, prunes
1/3-1/2 cup fruit compote
1/2 cup fresh fruit like whole blueberries or diced firm fruit like apples, pears, peaches, nectarines

Soak quinoa for a half hour or rinse several times and then drain it well.

In a medium sized pan, bring the milk to a boil and stir in the prepared quinoa. Once the milk has returned to the boil, reduce the temperature to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar, salt and ground cinnamon, cover and continue cooking for another 10 minutes.

If using dried fruit, add it in with the brown sugar and cook for the additional 10 minutes. If using fresh fruit, add it in a few minutes before end of the final cooking period and cook for another 2-3 minutes. If using the fresh fruit compote, stir it in just before serving.

Additional add-ins: Roasted seeds like sunflower seeds may be added before serving or nuts like sliced almonds. For additional sweetness, a tablespoon or so of sweetened condensed milk may be poured over the quinoa.

This ‘porridge’ may be eaten warm or cold with additional milk poured over the top.

Breakfast quinoa with nectarine compote stirred in and more served on top

Dried cranberries and sweetened condensed milk … I didn’t have any oranges or I would have added some orange zest as well. Ready for cold milk to be poured over.

Another possible quick breakfast …

The inspiration for this fresh fruit compote recipe was found on “The Story of a Kitchen” blog

Nectarine Murabba/Compote served over drained yogurt

Nectarine Murabba/Compote – makes 2 cups

1 pound nectarines** (or apricots or peaches), peeled and diced into 1 inch pieces
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
4 cardamom pods, cracked
1/4 tsp rosewater
pinch of salt
juice of one lemon (use the juice of half a lemon if your fruit isn’t fully ripe)

** Free-stone fruit is preferred but cling-stone works too

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to the boil. Add the diced fruit, cardamom pods, rosewater, salt and the juice of half a lemon and stir through. Continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.

Taste one of the fruits and only add the rest of the lemon juice if it seems sweet enough.

Transfer the fruit to a 2 cup capacity glass canning jar. Pour over enough of the syrup to cover the fruit. Screw on the lid and let cool on the counter until it has reached room temperature and then refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Serve over drained yogurt for breakfast or as a dessert topping over ice cream or cake.

Pie … Sweet or Savoury

I haven’t made a pie in ages but the various flyer sales for stone fruits (nectarines, peaches and plums) tempted me and so I scoped out what was available. I ended up going to Food Basic and picking up a clamshell of nectarines cause I had a bad experience with last year’s basket of peaches. They were firm but not as sweet as I would have liked and I had to guess-timate how much sugar to add. I erred on the side of caution. With a scoop of ice cream the result was perfect but it was a bit tart on its own.

The next question was … which of several pie crust recipes should I use. I went with the one on the Crisco vegetable shortening package, though I replaced half the shortening with unsalted butter. The recipe makes enough pastry for a single double crust pie, but I made two minis in disposable aluminum pie tins instead.

Crisco Pie Crust Recipe – makes 1 double crust pastry, ~580 gm pastry, enough for 2 8″ bases, and 2 6 1/2″ tops, plus leftover pastry

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup vegetable shortening (or 1/2 cup unsalted butter, and 1/2 cup vegetable shortening)**
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg
2 tbsp ice cold water
1 tbsp vinegar

** What I used this time

 

Nectarine/Peach Mini Pie Filling Recipe – rough formula for filling

2 – 2 1/2 nectarines per mini pie shell
1 tbsp sugar per nectarine (if the fruit is fully sweet, reduce to 2 tbsp per each 3 nectarines)
1/2 tbsp cornstarch** per nectarine
pinch of salt

** If planning to freeze baked tart, use flour, otherwise, use cornstarch. For every 1 tbsp of cornstarch, you’ll need to use about 3 tbsp of flour. Also, cook whatever you’re thickening a few minutes longer to get rid of the raw flavor of the flour. Baking should take care of that issue. Plus, the filling will be more matte than glossy when using flour.

Preheat oven to 375 deg F.

Bake pies for 35-40 minutes on a baking sheet in case of overflow or melting of butter

The remaining pastry became a savoury tart with broccoli, Canadian (peameal) bacon and cheddar cheese. No waste at all. Though I still have five nectarines in the fridge to deal with.

NOTE: For a filling recipe, I used the same amounts and timing as in an earlier quiche recipe baked in the same ceramic pan. Pre-baking the crust is advised.

Small Batch No Churn Ice Cream – Deconstructed Ferrero Rocher and Lemon Curd & Limoncello Cheesecake

ETA (07/21/2017): Replaced both the Ferrero Rocher and lemon curd scoop pictures.

For ice cream lovers without an ice cream maker or a large amount of freezer space, and a love for different flavours of ice cream, a small batch of no churn ice cream may be the solution. Especially as this type of ice cream is so VERY rich and a 1/2 cup serving is enough to satisfy most people. I picked two very different flavours of ice cream to cater to different cravings.

For Chocolate Hazelnut/Nutella Lovers – Deconstructed Ferrero Rocher Ice Cream

I wanted to buy some of the actual chocolates, chop them up and stir them into a Nutella flavoured ice cream but they didn’t have any at the grocery store so I was forced to use the elements for a ‘deconstructed’ version.

Deconstructed Ferrero Rocher Ice Cream – makes ~3 cups

3/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
50 gm coarsely chopped hazelnuts (filberts), reserve a teaspoon or so of nuts for decorating the top
1/2 cup Nutella
1 tbsp rye whiskey vanilla extract
1/4 cup (or more) fudge sauce** (or Nutella if you don’t have any fudge or chocolate sauce)

** I used Martha Stewart’s recipe

In a large cold bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

In a second large bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk with the Nutella until smooth. Stir in the chopped hazelnuts.

Fold the stiff cream into the sweetened condensed milk/Nutella/nut mixture.

Spoon half the ice cream mixture into a freezer safe container. Smooth the surface. Dot several half teaspoons of fudge sauce over the surface of the ice cream. Add the rest of the ice cream mixture. Drizzle some more fudge sauce over the ice cream

Sprinkle the reserved nuts over the top.

NOTE: Next time, I won’t line the container with saran wrap as it fell into the ice cream and got all messy. I was TRYING to keep the container neat.

Cover the container tightly with a lid or a sheet of foil and place into freezer for a minimum of 8 hrs or overnight.

For Citrus Lovers – Lemon Curd & Limoncello Cheesecake Ice Cream

I wanted the bright citrus hit of lemons so I used my home made lemon curd to flavour the ice cream. The Limoncello I made a few years ago provided the liqueur in the recipe, and, because it just wasn’t rich and creamy enough with the whipping cream, in an adaptation of an earlier blueberry version, I added cream cheese to make it similar to a cheesecake.

Lemon Curd & Limoncello Cheesecake Ice Cream – makes ~3 1/2-4  cups

3/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
3 oz/85 gm cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 tbsp Limoncello
1/3-1/2 cup lemon curd, divided

In a large cold bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

In a second large bowl, whip the cream cheese until smooth and then beat in the  sweetened condensed milk and the Limoncello.

Stir in a few tablespoons of the lemon curd.

Fold the stiff cream into the cream cheese/sweetened condensed milk/lemon curd mixture.

Spoon half the ice cream mixture into a freezer safe container. Smooth the surface. Dot several half teaspoons of lemon curd over the surface of the ice cream. With a wooden skewer or chopstick, marble the curd through the ice cream.

Add the rest of the ice cream mixture and flatten the top. Dot some more lemon curd over the top of the ice cream and marble through as before.

Cover the container tightly with a lid or a sheet of foil and place into freezer for a minimum of 8 hrs or overnight.

Sweet Hungarian Farmer’s Cheese Dumplings (Turogomboc)

This should be the last dumpling post … for a while, anyway.

There are as many recipes for making these sweet cheese dumplings as there are Hungarian grandmothers (nagyanya, nagymama).

Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration but, net surfing, even just on Hungarian web sites, will reveal lots of variations. In some, you separate your eggs and beat the whites to hard peaks before you fold them into the sweetened egg yolks along with the rest of the ingredients. Lemon zest or no lemon zest. And then there’s the addition of raisins. Cinnamon or no cinnamon with the sugar at the end? There are even recipes where the only sugar added is in the bread crumb coating.

Since this dish wasn’t served in my Romanian home, I feel that I can pick and choose the ingredients that best appeal to me. The recipe below is a combination of those recipes, with options for personalizing the dumplings to your taste.

I made my own ‘farmer’s or dry curd cheese’, or as close as I can get, which is my paneer cheese.

Here’s a picture of the tester dumpling.

Sweet Hungarian Farmer’s Cheese Dumplings (Turogomboc) – makes 32-34 dumplings, enough to serve 6 to 8 people

For the dumplings:
1 lb/454 gm farmer’s or dry curd or paneer cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 oz/113 gm semolina
1 pinch salt

Optional additions to the dumpling mixture:
zest of one lemon
2 tbsp of raisins
2 tbsp granulated sugar

For the sauce:
2 tbsp unsalted butter, or vegetable oil
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

To serve: sour cream, your favourite jam or powdered sugar

If using commercially purchased farmer’s cheese, use a wooden spoon to press the farmer’s cheese through a medium sieve into a large bowl. For freshly made farmer’s cheese or paneer, as I used, a regular fork should allow you to break up the cheese into even crumbles.

Add the egg, the semolina, and the pinch of salt. (If using, this is the point at which you would add the lemon zest, sugar and raisins.). Mix with the spoon until the dumpling dough reaches a uniformly stiff consistency. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Fill a large pot with water, bring to the boil, and add a teaspoon or so of salt.

Combine the granulated sugar with the cinnamon, if using.

While the dough chills, prepare the toasted breadcrumbs. Melt the butter in a nonstick or cast iron pan. Add the bread crumbs, stirring and tossing until you get a golden brown colour. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. You can add the sugar (and cinnamon) at this point.

Reduce the heat so the water is not boiling furiously.

With a soup spoon, scoop out enough dough to form dumplings about one inch in diameter.  Shape them roughly into balls and drop gently into the water. Do not crowd the dumplings in the water so only use half the dough at a time.

Give your dumplings a gentle stir to make sure they don’t rest on the bottom of the pot and stick. When the dumplings float to the surface they are done. (Test  by removing one of the dumplings and cutting it in half. The interior should be uniform in colour. If the center appears paler, continue cooking for another minute or two.)

Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked dumplings to the pan of sweetened bread crumbs.

Roll the dumplings around until they’re well coated.

Serve immediately with some powdered sugar or sour cream, thinned a bit with milk. Or your favourite jam.

Happy Canada Day/ 4th of July Celebration!

Happy Canada Day!

and

Happy 4th of July!

 

I decided to combine the two celebrations, as they’re so close together, and make a nice meal for one (or two). A spatch-cocked little chicken was roasted and served with corn and spinach malfatti. Simple and tasty.

Dessert … well, I went a bit overboard there. I bought a 3 pack of fruit (2 blueberries and 1 raspberry for $5), mainly because I wanted to make blueberry muffins and came up with two fast and easy “red/white and blue” themed desserts.

French vanilla ice cream …

and

Vanilla bean panna cotta with blueberries and raspberries