Tag Archives: dessert

Baked Meatballs … and Stuff

I’m so bored that the dozens of pictures that I took over the last month or so are languishing on my hard drive, unlikely to ever see the light of day. And the July clear-out post of pictures, scheduled to drop, eventually, is probably going to be deleted, as there’s nothing really new in them.

The most exciting thing I’ve made since my last post (NOT yesterday’s Italian bread post) is a batch of baked beef meatballs which I combined with jarred mushroom spaghetti sauce and rotini pasta for today’s supper. I toasted a couple of slices of the bread for garlic bread.

A few days ago I thawed the last of the hamantaschen pastry from Christmas. Today, I rolled out the pastry, cut out 2 inch circles and shaped them into a sort of ‘bow-tie’ cookie filled with mincemeat, also leftover from Christmas. Tasty but otherwise … meh.

In a recent ‘conversation through blog comments’ with a blogging friend I mentioned my last culinary shopping splurge, at the local LCBO … a bottle of Niagara Pinot Grigio and a bottle of sake. The Pinot was slated for risotto and/or mussels in a white wine and tomato sauce, and the sake was supposed to be paired with something sushi related. It didn’t happen. In the middle is a bottle of Polish made mead in a ceramic bottle gifted to me by my nephew. I’ll have to do something creative with it, one of these days.

And that’s about it, folks.

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No Churn Ice Cream Duo – Cherry Garcia Cheesecake and Black Sesame Seed

I brought home over a kilogram of beautiful sweet ripe cherries and after eating some out of hand, I wondered what I could make with the rest that didn’t involve some sort of baked goods using flour.

Ice cream seemed a perfect solution. I wanted to use as much cherry puree as possible to make the flavour stand out but was afraid that would thin out the ice cream base too much. Since I had a couple of ounces of cream cheese in the fridge, I though the addition would thicken the base, sort of a cheesecake version. And, at the last minute, I added the dark chocolate chunks for a Cherry Garcia cheesecake ice cream.

Cherry Garcia Cheesecake No Churn Ice Cream – recipe makes ~ 4 cups of ice cream

3/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tbsp alcohol**
1 tbsp flavouring**
50 gm dark chocolate, cut into rough chunks, or mini chocolate chips
250 gm cherries, pitted (if sour, add 2 tbsp sugar)
57 gm (2 oz) cream cheese, softened to room temperature

** If using an extract with an alcohol base, like vanilla extract or limoncello, as I have in the past, one tbsp of the extract is all you need. In this case, I used 1 tbsp of Kirsch, a cherry flavour liquer.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, flavourings and add ins. (NOTE: For the first attempt, I added the cream cheese, sugar and Kirsch to the bowl of a food processor and processed them together until the cream cheese was smooth. Then I added the sweetened condensed milk and the pitted cherries and pulsed them together briefly, scraped down the sides and pulsed the contents again. You want to leave some chunks. Turn out into a medium sized bowl. If you’ve pureed your cherries too much, pit and roughly chop 5-6 cherries and add them to the bowl.) Add the chunks of chocolate to your bowl of cherries.

In a medium sized bowl, whip the whipping cream until stiff peaks form.

Add about 1/4 of the whipped cream to the bowl of cherry flavoured sweetened condensed milk to lighten it up and then fold this mixture into the rest of the whipping cream, trying to deflate the whipped cream as little as possible.

Transfer the ice cream gently into a lidded 4 cup freezer safe/Tupperware container. Freeze for AT LEAST 6 hrs or overnight before serving. For maximum creamy texture, let the ice cream sit at room temperature for about 10-15 min before scooping.

And so that the rest of the can of sweetened condensed milk wouldn’t end up in the freezer, I wanted to make a second flavour. In contrast with the sweet fruitiness of the cherry ice cream, I decided on a simple black sesame seed ice cream. The flavour is subtle and the slight bitterness of the toasted and ground sesame seeds tones down the sweetness of the basic no churn recipe.

Black Sesame Seed No Churn Ice Cream Recipe – 3/4 cups whipping cream, 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk, 1 1/2-2 tbsp toasted ground black sesame seeds, 1 tbsp vanilla extract, pinch of salt. Makes a bit over 2 cups of ice cream.

Coconut Mango Panna Cotta and Defrosting Update

A picture of some lovely ripe mangoes (88 cents each) in the most recent Food Basics flyer led me to consider making either mango creme caramel or a mango panna cotta. I decided on the latter since it didn’t involve turning on the oven. In the current heat wave, even with the A/C on, that’s an important consideration.

I was able to get a couple of cups of a smooth and tasty mango puree from two mangoes. And, using a can of coconut milk in place of whipping cream let me get some extra flavour into the creamy dessert while reducing the calorie count.

Based on the proportions of gelatin and mango puree I found in a recipe on line, I came up with a recipe. And then I had to adjust THAT since my panna cotta didn’t set enough to turn out cleanly. The recipe below is a bit awkward but uses amounts of coconut milk and mango puree that minimize wastage or leftovers. Once I get through all this test batch of panna cotta, I’ll play with reducing the recipe to something that’s more practical for a single person.

Coconut Mango Panna Cotta – serves 6 or 7 1/4 cup portions

1 can (400 ml / 1 2/3 cup) coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 cup mango puree*
4 1/2 tsp gelatin (1 1/2 pkts Knox gelatin)**
2 tbsp room temperature water (or orange juice)

Mise en Place … after finishing this bowl of soup, I’m going to make my mango puree

* Two good sized ripe mangoes, diced and pureed in a stand blender, with as much juice as gathered while cutting and peeling the mangoes, should give you about 2 cups of mango puree. Taste the puree and, if needed, add a tablespoon or two of additional sugar before using.

** If using some other thickening agent, ie agar agar or sheets of gelatin, use enough to set 3 cups of liquid.

Scald the coconut milk. Pour into a large bowl and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Let cool until just warm to the touch. Stir in the vanilla extract and salt.

In a small bowl, empty the gelatin and stir in the orange juice and 2 tbsp of warm coconut milk. Stir/whisk until the gelatin is evenly moistened and then pour into the warm coconut milk. Whisk through. Add the mango puree and again, whisk until everything is evenly mixed together. (If desired, pass the mixture through a fine sieve to make sure there aren’t any mango fibres or undissolved bits of gelatin.)

Divide among as many small ramekins as desired. Portion size may vary from 1/4 to 1/3 or even 1/2 cup. Tap the bottom of the container, very gently, on a flat surface to release any bubbles in the panna cotta. If using fragile glasses, you may not wish to risk breakage so skip this step.

Refrigerate for a minimum of two hours, but preferably overnight, before serving.

NOTE: If you wish to turn out the panna cotta, lightly oil the ramekin with a neutral tasting oil. Otherwise, just pour into a pretty cup, let it set, and serve directly out of the cup.

Freezer Defrost Status: Before and After … as of July 1st, this is my upstairs freezer.

Peaches and Other ‘Stone’ Fruit

According to wiki, ‘peaches are a type of drupe or ‘stone’ fruit characterized by a large central stone, which contains the seed. Other examples include apricots, cherries and nectarines.’

Nectarines and peaches were on sale this past week, and I couldn’t decide between them, so I bought five of each, intending on making a large baking dish of crumble bars. And then I found that I didn’t have enough flour in the house to make the full recipe. So I made a small (8 inch by 8 inch) baking dish instead and used the extra fruit to make a compote.

The compote was used to top a ‘peaches and cream’ parfait recipe that I found posted on the Fridgg website.

‘Peaches and Cream’ Parfait – A cheesecake-like base topped with the fruit compote of your choice. Serve with, or without, lightly sweetened whipped cream on top. I made half the recipe of the cream and divided it among three pretty glasses.

This is the stone fruit compote recipe that I used to top the parfait, with the changes I’d recommend on a future attempt, since, in my opinion, the compote recipe as posted was too soupy and sweet, and the amount of cinnamon used overwhelmed the flavour of the fruit.

Peach Compote – makes ~1 cup

3 fresh peaches, skinned, pitted and diced
1/2 cup brown sugar (reduce to 1/3 cup, or less)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup water (reduce to 2 tbsp)
1 tsp cinnamon (reduce to 1/4 tsp)

In a medium saucepan, add the ingredients and bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 12-15 minutes, until the fruit is tender and the mixture thickens a bit. Transfer to a clean jar and store in the fridge for a week or so. Serve over a plain sponge cake, ice cream, oatmeal or pancakes.

Peach and Nectarine Crumble Bars – An easy dessert which I first saw posted on Charles’s ‘Five Euro Food’ website.

‘Peaches and Cream’ Pavlova – Pavlovas made with leftover egg whites and topped with barely sweetened whipped cream and the last of my stone fruit which had been sliced and macerated in some sugar and vanilla bean extract. ‘Nectarines and cream’ doesn’t have the same appeal though it tastes just as good as peaches.

Individual Lemon Pudding Cakes

Another unplanned dessert inspired by a craving for lemon curd and a bag of lemons.

This recipe for individual lemon pudding cakes made in one cup ramekins is one I bookmarked a while ago. It was fast, simple and I could make two portions instead of the four it was meant for.

It’s a novelty (magic) cake recipe in which the batter separates into a cake top and a lemon pudding base. As recommended in the comments, I increased the amount of lemon juice used and reduced the sugar.

I rushed through the assembly of this dessert as I was making a batch of dill Hollandaise at the same time so my folding of the eggs whites into the cake batter wasn’t as thorough as it should have been. The resulting cake top was lumpy and unevenly browned. Which didn’t matter because the cake is supposed to be turned out onto a plate anyway. Still, it would have been nice to have had a prettier result when I took the water bath with the ramekins out of the oven. Note: The cakes shrink as they cool, pulling away from the edge of the ramekin, and making it easy to unmold.

I didn’t have any pretty berries to use to decorate the plate but a sprig of mint leaves helped, a bit.

Spongy spoonful of cake with the lemon pudding.

Strawberry “Cheesecake” Crepes with Strawberry Sauce

Thanks go to Eva of “Kitchen Inspirations” for posting her strawberry sauce recipe (link posted below) and inspiring this ‘amazing’ crepe dessert. The finished dessert itself was based on a recipe from the Allrecipe website. I happily ‘borrow’ ideas and components for dishes from wherever I find them. I used my mom’s recipe for the sweetened crepes.

I scaled down and adjusted the recipe to serve two people generously and posted the revised recipe below so that the construction of the recipe was in one place.

Strawberry Cheesecake Crepes – enough filling for 4 9 inch crepes, serves 2

4 9 inch sweetened crepes

Cream cheese filling

2 oz cream cheese, softened
6 tbsp (1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp) sifted icing sugar
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup whipping cream, whipped (add 2 tbsp of icing sugar after the whipped cream has formed soft peaks)
4-5 large strawberries, rinsed, hulled and chopped for garnish

Strawberry sauce (location of the recipe)

In a medium sized bowl, whip together the cream cheese, 1/4 cup icing sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Gently fold in the sweetened whipped cream.

Divide the filling among the crepes, reserving about 1 tbsp for garnishing the finished crepes.  Add about a tablespoon of strawberry sauce on top of the cream cheese filling and some of the diced fresh strawberries.

Roll up the crepes and top with a small dollop of the cream cheese filling, a few more chunks of diced fresh strawberries and some more of the strawberry sauce.

Dig in.

Pie Filling Duo … Two Desserts in One Can

E.D. Smith is my favourite brand of pie filling and, around the holidays, it often goes on sale. I’ve had a can (540 ml in Canada) of cherry pie filling in the pantry for four to six months. Originally, I had planned on making a New York Style vanilla bean cheesecake and using the pie filling to top it. Even individual mini cheesecakes made in a muffin tin with a base of ‘Nilla wafers were a possibility.

And then … I changed my mind.

I ended up with a couple of scaled down cherry desserts designed for a single person or a couple to enjoy, each using half (a bit over a cup) of the filling.

This coffee cake was originally made in a 9 by 13 inch glass baking pan but I used a small disposable aluminum pie tin.

Cherry Coffee Cake with Crumb Topping – cut into 9 squares

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
4-6 tbsp sugar (use the lesser amount if you prefer less sugar)
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
1-1 1/4 cups cherry pie filling (or flavor of your choice)
2 tbsp finely chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans or almonds), optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease a 7 1/2 x 7 1/2 inch aluminum baking pan with shortening or margarine.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and melted butter in a medium sized mixing bowl, stir together with a fork until crumbly. Break up by hand if necessary.

Take 1/4 cup of the crumbs out and place into a small bowl. If you’re using nuts in the topping, add the finely chopped nuts to this portion of crumbs and set aside.

In a small bowl whisk the slightly beaten egg and milk together, add the milk mixture to the large bowl of crumbs and stir until incorporated. (There will be small lumps in the batter.)

Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan. Spoon the cherry pie filling over the cake. Sprinkle the reserved crumb topping over the pie filling.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the batter comes out cleanly. Cool for at least 15-20 minutes, cut and serve.

Instead of a full sized cherry pie, I used the pastry from a single crust pie, to make six mini cherry pies in muffin tins and used the leftover pie filling from the coffee cake above to fill them, making sure to reserve least 3 cherries per mini pie.

Mini Cherry Pies – makes 6 mini pies

1 disk of single crust pastry
1-1 1/4 cups cherry pie filling (or your favourite pie filling flavour)
1 tbsp whipping cream, to brush over the the pastry decoration on each mini pie
coarse sugar for sprinkling over the pastry decoration (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roll out the pastry to about 1/8th of an inch thickness. Cut six 3 3/4-4 inch diameter circles out of the pastry. Use the leftover pastry to cut out six mini stars or hearts for decorating the tops of your mini pies. Fit the pastry circles into large sized muffin tins.

Distribute the pie filling evenly among the muffins tins, making sure there are 3 cherries in each tin. Decorate each mini pie with one of the pastry cut-outs.

Brush some whipping cream over each pastry decoration and sprinkle some coarse sugar over each.

Bake the mini pies until the filling is hot and bubbling and the pastry crust is set and golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Let the muffin tin cool on a wire rack before removing.

Serve on their own or with a scoop of vanilla or cherry ice cream.

Sweet Potato Buns (and Looking at the Dough NOT the Clock)

I recently saw a post on one of my bread making FB groups about making potato bread/buns … and I was intrigued.

So, this past long weekend, I went down into the basement for the last six Yukon gold potatoes that I had …

… only to have a second thought based on the presence of a LARGE sweet potato in the shoe caddy hanging at the top of the stairs into the basement.

The result was eight HUGE moist and tender buns. (I used “Chef John’s” Sweet Potato Bun recipe from the All-recipes website.)

Crumb of the sweet potato buns

NOTE: On line recipes are sometimes a crap shoot when it comes to the detail of the instructions given, or lack thereof. In this particular case, the proofing times were way off. It took my dough one hour to rise to the top of the bowl NOT the two hours that the recipe claimed. Only the dinner plate covering the top of the bowl prevented a spill over. And my kitchen wasn’t even particularly warm … barely 72 deg F.

Based on that, I watched the final proofing time carefully. It took half an hour for the buns to have doubled in size. Since I had something else in the oven already, I threw the baking tray with the buns into the fridge until I was ready to bake them.

Looks like ‘someone’ was nibbling on that warm buttered bun. 🙂

REVIEW: Soft and tender buns with a bit of sweetness. Beautiful golden colour. The size though … well, when they said LARGE, they meant large. I used 115-120 gm of dough per bun. I’d scale that back to 95-100 gm next time which should give me ten buns and not the eight I ended up with. And I’d definitely make this recipe again.

Here’s another case of a recipe that didn’t QUITE work as expected.

Mocha cookies sounded pretty amazing when I ran across them on a recent web search. And the pictures made my mouth water. I followed the instructions carefully. Butter at room temperature. I even weighed it. Egg at room temperature. And I have a light and consistent hand when measuring flour. My oven is calibrated properly and it was preheated long enough that I knew it was accurate. I was surprised that the recipe said it only made FOURTEEN cookies but used a soup spoon to measure out the dough. The resulting balls were about two inches in diameter so I decided to scale them back to one inch in diameter, made the fourteen cookie balls and prepared to watch the timing so they wouldn’t burn.

SURPRISE

I ended up with little marbles.

They didn’t spread AT ALL even after I gave them an extra couple of minutes of baking time.

I still had a bit over half the cookie dough left so I weighed it, and divided the dough into EIGHT (46 gm) portions. The first batch of cookie balls had all sorts of cracks and imperfections after they baked so I made sure that these cookied balls were perfectly smooth, pre-baking. I took a good look at the dough balls before I put them in the oven and they looked HUGE. Since I didn’t want GIANT marbles, I decided to dip the base of a coffee mug into granulated sugar and flatten the dough balls.

NOTE: For some reason I didn’t think to increase the baking temperature from the 350 deg Fahrenheit in the recipe to 375 deg for this second batch.

The cookies still didn’t spread but the resulting cookies were more ‘cookie-like’ in shape. And like the first batch, they were soft.

REVIEW: The cookies were tasty though I think they were missing … something … taste-wise. I don’t think I’d make this recipe again.

BBQ and Mint Chimichurri

I’ve had a beef/steak craving for a while and picked up a couple of rib steaks (cap off), as well as a tray of pork chops, also on sale this week, with a plan to barbecue. Unfortunately, with Friday and Saturday’s rain and thunderstorms, it took a post-supper lull on Saturday before I could finally throw a few things on the grill.

There’s nothing like chimichurri to dress a bbq’d steak or pork chops. I’ve used cilantro, mint and parsley to make it, in the past, but this batch just used mint and parsley. And for a veggie side … steamed artichokes with a chipotle yum yum sauce (leftovers) to dip into. I’ll share the pictures in a separate post

Mint Chimichurri – makes about 2/3 of a cup

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped (about 2 teaspoons)
1 cup fresh mint (spearmint) leaves, packed
1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, packed
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp Kosher or coarse sea salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
6 tbsp olive oil**

** I used extra virgin olive oil since that’s all I had.

Place garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times until finely chopped. Add the mint and parsley leaves and pulse until finely chopped.

In a medium sized bowl, add the vinegar, salt, and red pepper flakes and stir until the salt has dissolved. Add the mint-parsley mixture and stir until well mixed. Stir in the olive oil.

Transfer to a glass jar, seal and refrigerate. The chimichurri will keep for several days in the refrigerator.

Perfect to serve over steak, lamb or even roasted potatoes!

Steak, potatoes and mint chimichurri – I put the chimichurri on the potatoes for visual contrast though it’s generally served on top of your grilled meat.

Dessert was a couple of large cream puffs filled with chocolate Chantilly cream

Mixed bbq grill – Rib steak, Yukon gold potatoes, a package of hot dogs and a couple of pork chops

Enriched Duck Fat Dough … Hamburger/Slider Buns and Sticky Salted Caramel Walnut Rolls

Last weekend I did a lot of cooking so this weekend was baking time. Between the buns, rolls and pizzas, I’m going to be burning through a bunch of yeast and flour. Instead of using butter, I made a batch of enriched dough using duck fat, eggs and milk. You can use the same enriched ‘brioche style’ dough for various bakes, sweet or savoury.

Half of the dough (~ 2 lbs/ 900 gm) was shaped into eight 60 gm hamburger buns while the rest was rolled out into a rectangle, filled with a home made caramel sauce and chopped walnuts (use pecans if you have them) and sliced into rolls. The only change I made to my basic duck fat dough was to double the sugar content to two tablespoons.

Hamburger/Slider Buns

Each hamburger was made using 125 gm of extra lean ground beef seasoned with salt, pepper and a bit of onion powder. Nothing else … no bread, no milk, no eggs, no Worchestershire sauce. The plastic sour cream lid under the bun in the front left of the picture below was used to shape the raw burger patty. The sliders I made are a bit smaller than the commercial hamburger buns. Next time, I may use a bit more dough for my sliders … maybe up to 75-80 gm. I haven’t decided yet.

Sticky Salted Caramel Walnut Rolls

Dough rolled out to a 16″ by 10″ rectangle, spread with 1/4 cup of salted caramel sauce and about a cup of chopped walnuts, rolled up and cut into 2 inch wide rolls. (I’d probably cut back the nuts to 1/2 cup next time.) Baked at 350 deg F for 30-35 min. Once baked, more caramel sauce was poured over each roll.

While my camera battery was recharging, I couldn’t resist snacking on one of the rolls.