Tag Archives: fruit

Sweets to the Sweet … Raspberry Jello Mini Meringues

NOTE: I’ve made all three desserts (citrus curd, madeleines and meringues) before. However, there’s a new TWIST for the meringue recipe.

Although not having a huge sweet tooth, I recently developed a lemon craving and decided to make lemon curd with the two lemons in my fridge. I had enough citrus juice for my recipe as I was able to supplement the shortage with lime juice, but ran short of zest for my second planned dessert … madeleines. I was sure I had some lemon zest in the freezer but I was wrong and ended up using orange zest instead. I love that citrus varieties are mostly interchangeable in cooking.

After making a batch of lemon curd, I ended up with extra egg whites.

Now, I’ve tossed more than my share of egg whites down the drain in my time,  as I can only eat so many meringues and pavlovas and my single attempt at sponge cake was met with disaster. However, these bright coloured mini meringues caught my eye while web surfing. They get their colour and flavour from something that many of us have in our pantries … a package of Jello. You’ll notice that the vibrant colour of the mixture pales dramatically as the whites are being beaten so, if you want something brighter, you’ll  have to add gel paste to boost the colour of the final product.

Raspberry Jello mini meringues – You can find the recipe for these meringues on line here.

I decided to pipe these mini meringues I was hoping for lovely ridges on the final product but I had problems getting stiff peaks, and the ridges softened by the time I got the entire tray piped and into the oven. Of course, you can spoon out larger mounds and and serve them as colourful pavlovas topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits.

Orange poppy seed madeleines – Madeleine pans will give your little cakes the classic design when presented bottom side up, but if you don’t have any, you can certainly bake the little butter cakes in mini muffin tins.

Danish Pastry Creations … something old, something new

Some time ago, I used an easy danish recipe (no knead) found on my friend Zsuzsa‘s blog to make a cherry braid. I made the braid again recently, but with a frangipane (sugar, softened butter and ground almond meal) base for the home made cherry filling, rather than the previous cream cheese.

I’m especially proud to say that both these pastries were made with items already in my fridge and freezer and nothing was bought specifically for them. Now what do I do with all the stuff in my pantry?

Cherry-Frangipane Braid

The braid ended up looking pretty good, but then it WAS my second one and I learned a few things.

 

Once the glaze is set, I’ll wrap it up for gift giving. Though I may trim off the top and bottom to square if off. (And so I can taste it.)

Frangipane Filling

4 tbsp/1/4 cup granulated white sugar
3 tbsp ground almonds
2 tbsp (25g or 1oz) butter, softened to room temperature

Combine sugar, ground almonds and softened butter, and beat together with a wooden spoon until soft and creamy.

And for something new … I adapted a sticky lemon curd roll with a cream cheese glaze recipe I found on line to use the mixed citrus curd I had in my fridge.

Sticky Lemon Curd Rolls

The pastry is not kneaded, just mixed together and then refrigerated until the next day when it will be firm enough to be rolled out. Flour the pastry and your working surface well and if it softens too much while shaping, return to the refrigerator for a  half hour or so. After rolling the pastry out and trimming it to the correct size, a lemon-butter filling is spread on the pastry and then lemon curd is spread over the top. I had a mixed citrus curd in the fridge so that’s what I used.

The rolls were placed in a buttered baking dish, covered and allowed to rise for about an hour in a warm place until doubled and then baked.

Instead of using the cream cheese glaze for the rolls, I went with a simple, tangy lemon (lime, in this case) butter version

Lemon-Butter Glaze

1 cup icing sugar
1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 tbsp lemon juice

Combine the above in a small bowl until smooth, and then add water, about a tsp at a time  (~1 tbsp or so needed) to thin the glaze enough to drizzle over.

NOTE: I poured the glaze into a small freezer bag, cut off the corner and squeezed it over the top.

Pine Nut Brittle and a Break

I  think I’m going to take a bit of a break … not sure how long though so I’ll leave you with a quick candy recipe post. This will give anyone reading a chance to catch up on earlier posts which they may have missed (hint) and give ME a chance to come up with some ideas for what to make during my two months of summer break.

POSSIBLE projects are mostly rehashes of things I haven’t made in ages … like cannoli shells, potstickers, pastas (I’ve been meaning to try a beet puree for colouring), yaki onigiri. (I may add more ideas here as they come to me. Right now I’m too hungry to think clearly.)

I had a brittle craving a while ago, but the only nuts in the house were pine nuts from my freezer, so that’s what I went with. Not cheap to make compared to something like a peanut brittle, but OH SO GOOD.

Pine Nut Brittle

A very simple basic brittle recipe using equal amounts by weight of sugar (100 g /1/2 cup sugar, 100 gm/1 cup pine nuts, 1 tsp butter, a pinch of baking soda, a pinch of sea salt and a few finely minced fresh rosemary leaves).

I made a second batch in which I doubled the sugar and halved the nuts. It was good too and more economical on the nuts if that’s a concern. Here’s a picture of the two versions for comparison. At least I could spread out the 2nd batch of brittle more thinly on the sheet.

Meal Round-up

Breakfast of sourdough starter pancakes topped with macerated strawberries and maple syrup, eggs over easy and LOTS of bacon.

Various chicken dishes: a disappointing chicken kebab recipe which was transformed into a chicken shawarma wrap, a couple of ways to serve leftover shredded chicken mole

Leftover pea-meal bacon roast, mac and cheese and peas … all from the freezer

Potato salad with hardboiled eggs with my home made blender mayonnaise.

Mixed Citrus Curd Redux and Sourdough Starter Crackers

In the last week, I’ve had some unexpected free time (no work calls) so I whipped up a batch of mixed citrus curd using my basic lemon curd recipe. You can use any kind of citrus juice to make a curd, or even something like a tart raspberry juice. I was very excited about using blood orange juice to make curd, about a year ago, cause I imagined the colour would be a vibrant reddish-brown but it ended up being more of an orange-brown. It still tasted delicious however.

For this mixed citrus curd, I used 2 tsp each of lemon, lime and orange zest and equal parts of the various citrus juices to make 1/2 cup. The result is an amazing and versatile treat. I decided to leave the zest in the curd.

I also made a batch of crackers with some leftover sourdough starter and for fun, experimented with various shapes and flavours. Clockwise from the top – round fennel seed topped, plain bars, square cayenne pepper and sesame seeds and diamond shaped cracked pepper and Grana Padano cheese crackers. I wanted to use whole wheat flour but all I had was about half a cup of fine semolina (#1) so I used that and enough all purpose flour to get a firm dough.

I used a recipe I found on line for the proportions of starter/flour and the baking times but only let my dough sit on the counter for 2 hrs (for the first 2 trays) and 3 hrs (for the last tray) as I didn’t really want it to get more sour.

After baking

CONCLUSION: I enjoyed the crackers but they’re not something I’d make regularly. Too much time and effort for something I can buy fairly cheaply … even though my crackers had no artificial ingredients or preservatives. Use whole wheat flour for more texture and a deeper colour if you have it handy.

Carrot Cake, Tamales and Savoury Empanadas

My freezer/pantry clear out has taken a serious turn and I can finally see the bottom of the upstairs freezer. And there are darned few things left in there so I’ve had to be creative.

Even the carrot cake was partially made with a freezer item, the last of a bag of walnuts from Costco. I DID have to buy a can of crushed pineapple though. And, killing two birds with one stone … carrot cake is on my cooking bucket list. I haven’t crossed anything off it in ages. The results were great. I used a recipe I found on Fridgg, even though I had several recipes stored away already on my hard drive. That ‘shiny, new’ tendency strikes again.

Pineapple carrot cupcakes with orange cream cheese frosting and a garnish of walnut halves

I made half the recipe and baked 12 large cupcakes with the resulting batter. Perfect for a single person or couple.

The tamales were made with the last of a bag of Maseca brand masa harina and dried corn husks from my storage area. Instead of water I used frozen ham broth from the picnic shoulder ham I boiled a while ago to flavour the tamales. I made a shredded mole chicken filling with poached bone in chicken breasts. The mole paste was a jarred brand, Dona Maria. The filling wasn’t quite as good as the pulled pork I’ve used in the past but beggars can’t be choosers.

Destined for the freezer and quick meals

Tamales with a bit of mole sauce to drizzle over

Steamed tamales

The savoury Mexican chorizo and potato empanadas were made with home made chorizo and pie crust (Tenderflake lard recipe from the box) from my freezer. I got 2 dozen 5″ diameter empanadas from a bit less than 1 pound of fried chorizo and some limp potatoes from the basement, cubed and pan fried until brown and crispy.

Pan fried potatoes and chorizo filling

April Clear-out

I haven’t done much cooking in April, certainly nothing post-worthy, but I thought I’d share some of the tasty things I made.

Barbecue meal of giant hamburgers and sausages, with mac and cheese and corn side dishes, and a Mexican beer to wash it down.

Burgers (ground beef and pork) and sirloin tip steak, chicken breast basted with Jamaican barbecue sauce and Grill ’em sausages

Baked chicken drumsticks with the jerk bbq sauce, mac and cheese, onion rings and raw broccoli with ranch dressing

Oven baked pork chop and baked potato

Hot Italian sausage and broccoli over pasta

Thin crust pepperoni and mozzarella pizza

I picked up some frozen chicken cutlets and used them in several dishes including a Chicken Alfredo salad and a Mexican chicken and rice wrap with Taco Bell hot sauce.

Breakfast burrito with a pepperoni omelette, home fried potatoes, Mexican rice and avocado

Sushi – fake crab legs and avocado or cream cheese filling. I also made an attempt at a Caterpillar/Dragon roll with a garnish of spicy Mayo with flying fish caviar.

Orange curd and …

an orange loaf cake

Cheddar cheese straws and bars

Sad Anniversary and Happy Memories

Last weekend was the sixth anniversary of my dad’s passing. As we’re planning on bulldozing the old bungalow in the county, especially after six years of unfettered mouse invasion, I made a last pass through to see if there was anything left salvageable.

I found a 4 piece set of cranberry coloured dishes that my SIL had bought them years ago and that they had barely used, a couple of baking dishes and a large Japanese made chef’s knife. The ceramic snowman is a salt and pepper shaker set … and there’s home made rakija (home made fruit brandy) in the brown glass decanter.

I put aside some other dishes and glassware that can be donated. And bagged a lot of clothes only suitable for burning

I also found a gray sweater that my mom had knitted for my dad and a multi-coloured woven scarf which I’ll wear in the winter.

In the past week, I’ve eaten off the dishes, and made an apple pie in the blue glass Pyrex baking dish and baked macaroni and cheese in the white ceramic dish.

And this weekend, I made one of my dad’s favourite soups, ham and white bean. Although he liked this soup more like a stew in texture, I went for a thinner version which could be used to soak up some good home made bread. And that sharp chef’s knife did a great job on the veggies. I also made a red version of this soup for a change of pace.

Happy Easter!

After a modest meatless Good Friday meal, Easter is a celebratory occasion and this meal reflects that.

Soup was re-purposed from the salted cod, cannellini bean dip with the addition of egg noodles and ham broth.

Ham glazed with a plum balsamic reduction, mashed potatoes and peas with cherries jubilee

Washed down with strawberry lemonade.

I made a batch of crepes and paired them with the cherries jubilee sauce.

And drunken strawberries (strawberries macerated in sugar and Cointreau) over crepes with French vanilla ice cream.

And then, cause I had some cream puffs in the freezer and fresh strawberries, I sliced half open and filled them with sliced strawberries and sweetened whipped cream. I made a chocolate glaze to finish the presentation. Pretty but a bit messy to eat.

So, I piped the whipped cream into the rest of the cream puffs and served them with chocolate dipped strawberries.

Pick the one you want or eat one … or 2 of each.

Good Friday Meal Pan fried Panko breaded sole fillets, sauteed kale and a re-purposed white cannellini bean dip over dried salted cod. (No recipe cause I’m still working on getting it as good as my dad’s. After last year’s under-seasoned dish, this year, I didn’t soak the cod long enough and the dip needed to be baked longer as it was a bit too watery from the moisture in the cod. Eaten with the semolina sourdough bread, however, the saltiness was reduced somewhat. I started the meal with clam chowder.

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

I like the IDEA of hot cross buns better than the ones I’ve had, even those bought from a bakery. So this year, I decided to try to make my own. I threw in a half cup of sourdough starter because I had it handy.

Generally, my first tries of new recipes have been spot on but that’s not always the case.

This recipe is a work in progress for various reasons ie. I chose to reduce the amount of sugar asked for in the recipe I used. I was too lazy to grate fresh nutmeg when I ran out so I used half the amount called for. It turned out that my jar of allspice was empty so I left it out. I KNEW I shouldn’t use the full tablespoon of ground cinnamon called for (I started with 2 tsp) but decided to compensate for the nutmeg/allspice. Next time … I’m only using 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. 🙂

In the interest of full disclosure, it was a tasty hot cross bun. I’ve paid good money for worse. But it’s not a recipe I’d make again. I’d try something else first.

That said, someone else might really enjoy the sweetness level and cinnamon amount so I’m including the recipe below.

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns – makes 15 buns

3 – 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup active sourdough starter
1/2 cup warmed milk
1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar (use the full amount next time)
2 tsp dry active yeast
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
3 – 4 tbsp butter or margarine, softened
1 – 3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice (didn’t have any)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3/4 cup raisins and 3/4 cup dried cranberries, soaked overnight in 1/3 cup rum
~1 tsp finely minced candied orange peel.

Soaked fruit and peel

For the flour paste

1/2 cup all purpose flour
4-5 tbsp cold water

For syrup glaze

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking dish or spray with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, dissolve the sugar in the warmed milk. Sprinkle in the dry yeast and stir. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy.

In a large bowl, add 2 cups of flour and salt. Stir in sourdough starter, activated yeast mixture, eggs, and butter. Beat well with a wooden spoon until you get a thick, smooth batter.

Add spices, drained raisins and cranberries and minced candied orange peel. Stir well.

Stir in the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until it’s too thick to stir then turn out your dough onto a lightly floured working surface. Knead for another 5-10 minutes until your dough is soft but not sticky. The egg yolks will give a golden colour to your dough.

Lightly oil a large bowl, add your dough ball, cover and let rise in a warm place until double, about an hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently deflate the dough. Cut the dough into 15 equal pieces and roll each one into a ball.

Place the rolls in the pan and cover with a clean damp towel and let them rest for another 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Making the flour paste for the cross

Place the flour in a small bowl and add the flour a tablespoon time until you form a smooth, pipeable paste. Stop with the 5 tablespoon and wait a while for the mixture to loosen up before adding another tsp or so. (I added a sixth tablespoon right away and ended up with a mixture that was thinner than I would have liked.) Pour the paste into a small freezer bag. Seal and cut an 1/8th to a 1/4 diameter hole in the bottom. Pipe straight lines horizontally and vertically

Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.

Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Making the sugar syrup

While baking make the syrup by mixing the sugar with the water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over low heat. Continue boiling for 4-5 minutes or until syrup thickens a bit. Set aside.

When the buns are out of the oven, brush with the sugar syrup.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Sometimes I get a craving for something sweet but don’t have a lot of time to invest in making dessert. This miniature upside down cake can be baked in a medium sized aluminum foil pan and serves four to five.

Brown and Bubbly Goodness

Pineapple Upside Down Cake – makes one cake in an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ disposable aluminum loaf pan

For the Cake:

2/3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups sugar (you may want to reduce this to 1/2 cup if, like me, you find it a bit too sweet)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 large eggs

For the Glaze & Topping:

2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 small can pineapple chunks, well drained and patted dry
8-10 maraschino cherries (can be omitted)

Whipped cream to serve

Preheat oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit.

Spray your loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray or lightly butter the bottom & sides.

In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, pineapple juice and eggs and whisk together until well incorporated.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter, once melted add in the brown sugar and stir constantly on medium heat for 45 seconds, set aside.

Spoon a layer of the hot mixture into the bottom of the loaf pan, then arrange the chunks of pineapple on top of the brown sugar mixture. (Next time, I’ll omit the little pieces you see in the picture below. They made the batter too wet.)

Add the cherries throughout the chunks, if using.

Spoon the cake batter on top. (You can see that some of the little chunks of pineapple floated up into the batter. Another reason not to add them next time.)

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (If the top gets too brown while the center is still moist, cover with a sheet of aluminum foil.)

Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Gently run a knife around the edge of the cake to help loosen, because it may stick slightly. Unmold onto a wire cooling rack & allow to cool completely. Do not wrap up while it’s still warm as the inside will get soggy after refrigerating overnight.

Slice and serve with a scoop of slightly sweetened whipped cream.

NOTE: The loaf below was made with half the batter so it was much thinner than the regular recipe. It cooled quickly and the cake remained light and fluffy after storing overnight in the fridge. Not that there was that much to store … I ate half of it the first day and the rest the next. I preferred this thinner version to the one above.