Tag 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

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.

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.

Cherry Dumplings (Potato Dough)

There’s a lot of overlap between Romanian and Hungarian dishes, which we learned when my brother married a Hungarian girl. Like these these potato dough dumplings that may be filled with sour/sweet plums or cherries. I had a pound of sweet cherries in the freezer so that’s what I went with. I used the ingredients and technique I found in a recipe online but reduced the amount of butter used and rewrote the instructions.

Cherry Dumplings

Cherry Dumplings – makes 30-32

Hungarian – cseresznyes gomboc
Romanian – galuste cu cirese

Potato Dumpling Dough
1 kg all purpose potatoes
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
400 gm (2 1/3 cups) all purpose flour, divided
1 large egg (55-60 gm), beaten slightly
1 tsp (5 ml) salt

Filling
680 g pitted sweet cherries (90-96 cherries)

Sauce
70 g (1 cup) dried breadcrumbs
200 g (~ 1 cup) unsalted butter (use half or less)
3 tsp (15 ml) ground cinnamon (optional)
1 1/2 tbsp (30 ml) white sugar

Icing sugar, to serve (optional)

Scrub potatoes and bring to the boil in a large pot of salted water. Reduce heat to low and cook covered for 1 hour or until tender. A steak knife inserted into the potatoes should go in easily. Drain the potatoes and cool slightly, then, peel.

For the best texture, pass the cooked potatoes through a potato ricer into a large mixing bowl. Otherwise, just use a potato masher. Add 2 cups of the flour, the softened butter, salt and the beaten egg to the bowl and, with a fork or your hand, combine into a smooth mixture. Turn out onto a floured working surface and gently knead just until you get a soft dough, adding flour as needed. Don’t overwork/handle the dough or it will become tough.

Divide the dough in half and then each half into 15 or 16 portions to get 30-32 balls.

Working with one ball at a time, flatten a bit and place 3 cherries inside. Fold the dough up over the cherries to enclose them and re-roll into a ball. Place dumplings on a floured tray. (At this point, you can place the tray in the freezer and when firm, place into a freezer bag and freeze for 2-4 weeks. Boil from frozen.)

Working in batches of 5 or 6, drop the dumplings into a pot of boiling salted water and cook for 6 minutes or until they rise to the surface. Remove and place onto a large tray while making the sauce.

Melt the butter in a large frying or saute pan over high heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook for a couple of minutes or until light golden. Add the dumplings, shaking the pan, for 2 minutes or until well coated.

Combine the cinnamon and sugar, spoon over the dumplings in the pan and shake again to distribute over the dumplings.

Serve 2 to 3 dumplings per person and dust with icing sugar.

NOTE: For the plum version, use one small pitted plum per dumpling. If the plums are large, cut them in half.

Brutti Ma Buoni ver. 2 – Uncooked Batter

I recently made a quick batch of blender Hollandaise sauce using a recipe a blog friend shared with me and had two egg whites to play with. So I made the ‘easy’ version of ‘brutti ma buoni’.

Pavlovas, vanilla pine nut ‘brutti ma buoni’ and chocolate almond ‘brutti ma buoni’

I left out the cocoa powder. Instead, I added a tablespoon of vanilla sugar for flavour. And for nuts, I toasted pine nuts and chopped them up coarsely. I took the egg whites out of the fridge and let them sit at room temperature for about half an hour, and added the sugar a tablespoon at the time, but had trouble getting the sugar to dissolve so I stirred in the nuts and baked them off anyway.

  

Rather than getting my usual glossy looking meringues, they were dull and gritty looking after baking.

The taste was still good though. I only added nuts to half the meringue while baking the rest plain. I loved the moist centers of the plain meringues … they turned out more like pavlovas but the vanilla ‘brutti ma buoni’ were tasty. I preferred them to the chocolate version, to be honest.

Inside the vanilla ‘brutti ma buoni’

Brutti Ma Buoni (“Ugly But Good” Cookies) ver. 1 – Cooked Batter

UUUUGLY Cookie Warning!!

REALLY … I’m NOT kidding. These cookies look funky, especially before you bake them, but they DO taste good.

I’ve been meaning to make these cookies for some time but kept putting it off, until now.

There are two basic techniques or versions of “brutti ma buoni”, and of course, I chose the more complicated one which involves cooking the meringue batter to dry it out before it’s spooned out onto a baking sheet and baked. Even though I watched several videos, I overcooked the batter so that the last few cookies ended up dried and crumbly. These cookies had cocoa powder folded into the batter. Hazelnuts seem to be used most commonly in the recipes that I researched but, I used sliced almonds, since I had some in my freezer. Other nuts like pine nuts, pecans or even walnuts, may be used alone or in combination.

Brutti ma buoni al cioccolato (Chocolate “Ugly but Good” Cookies) – makes 10-12 cookies

2 egg whites (~75 gm)
150 gm white sugar
150 gm nuts, toasted and chopped coarsely**
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

** Almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove 1 tbsp of the sugar and sift it, together with the cocoa powder, into a small bowl. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large, clean mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gradually spoon in the sugar and continue whisking until hard peaks form. Fold in the sugar/cocoa mixture, then the nuts.

You can spoon the meringue “batter” onto the baking sheet at this point and bake it OR transfer it into a thick bottomed sauce pan and cook on the stove top at medium-low heat while stirring gently. Cook, scraping the bottom, until the batter has dried out and starts pulling away from the bottom and sides, about 10-12 min. (NOTE: Remember, the batter keeps cooking when you pull the pan off the heat so you might want to under cook it a bit.)

Using 2 tablespoons (scrape out the batter from the first with the second) transfer mounds of the batter, onto your lined baking sheet, about an inch apart, and bake for 20-25 min. They will be firm to the touch, but soft deep in the centre.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 to 10 minutes, after which they’ll be easier to remove with a thin spatula.

Let finish cooling on racks.

You can store leftover cookies in an air tight container in a cool dry place. Don’t refrigerate or freeze.