Monday, June 6, 2011

Potato Salad

My daughter was telling me that all the kids in her english class were talking about my potato salad, which is nice to hear because it is so easy to make. it does take some time to let the potatoes cool
Sorry for the photo I had to grab a quick one while some was left.
8-10 potatoes
1/2 lb bacon
sour cream
chives or green onion (I used about 1/4 cup)

Boil potatoes in their skins until tender, drain, let cool in the pot with the lid on (over night is best)
peel the potatoes by scraping with a knife, and cube into about 1/2 inch cubes put into a large bowl.
cook bacon and break into bits (I usually cut mine first it makes it easier to get it all the same size).
Add the bacon and 2-3 tbsp of the fat to the potatoes.
Add equal amounts of Mayonnaise and sour cream to coat the potatoes well.
Add the chives and mix.
let sit in the fridge until well cooled, and serve

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sweet and Salty Cake

*Photo by Tannis

So! I've been super busy lately and I keep forgetting to take pictures of what I've made since I last posted. Too bad, because there's been a lot of good stuff. I made a shaved asparagus pizza and then a regular one, pasta puttanesca and roasted-red-pepper-and-mixed-pea pasta salad, Korean vegetable pancakes and some of the regular breakfast kind. I bought a new cookbook and from it I made a chopped avocado salad (meh), chicken fajitas (mmmmm) and a pot-roast meatloaf (me! And it was fabulous). Some of which I may even type up and share when I have a chance.

But this I can't keep to myself. It is possibly the most decadent thing I have ever made. I believe if I hadn't had people over to eat it with me I would be dead of cake overload right now. It's so rich that we had to have a water break halfway through our half-inch slices. It is amazing in every way.

It's also pretty labour-intensive, but I would just start a few days in advance next time. The cake layers can be baked then frozen for a few days/weeks, which will also make them easier to work with, and the caramel and frosting can be made in advance then refrigerated. I found that everything spread more nicely while cold anyway.

Baked's Sweet and Salty Cake
For the cake layers:
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup sour cream
2 2/3 cups cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla

For the salted caramel:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup sour cream

For the whipped ganache frosting:
1 pound dark chocolate, chopped (I used dark chocolate chips)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, soft fut cool, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Fleur de sel, for garnish

Make the cake layers:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Butter and flour each pan; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa, 1 1/4 cups hot water, and sour cream; set aside to cool, about 10 minutes. In another medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Beat the butter and shortening together until smooth and ribbonlike, about 5 minutes. Add both sugars and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and mix again for 30 seconds. Add flour mixture alternating with cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Divide batter evenly among the three prepared pans. Bake until cake is just firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely and remove from pans.

Make the salted caramel:
In a small saucepan, combine the cream and fleur de sel. Bring to a simmer over very low heat until salt is dissolved.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water. Cook over high heat until the mixture thickens and is amber in colour or an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F [Cook until it is a few shades lighter than desired - it will continue to cook for a few minutes after you take it off the heat]. Remove from heat and let cool 1 minute.

Add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Whisk in the sour cream. Let cool to room temperature and transfer to an airtight container an refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Make the whipped ganache frosting:
Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl [if you have an electric mixer use that bowl because of later instructions] and set aside. In a small saucepan bring the cream to a simmer over very low heat.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine the sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water. Cook over high heat until mixture thickens and is light amber in colour. Remove from heat and let cool 1 minute.

Add cream to caramel and stir to combine. Stir slowly for 2 minutes, then pour caramel over the chocolate. Let caramel and chocolate sit for a minute, then slowly stir the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted. Let the mixture cool, then transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Mix on low speed until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Increase speed to medium high and gradually add the butter, beating until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and beat on high until mixture is fluffy. [Not having a mixer I used hand beaters, and my ganache didn't get as "whipped" as it should have - still delicious but if you have a mixer I'd use it]

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate. Place the first layer on the cake plate.

Spread 1/4 cup caramel on the cake, allowing it to soak into the cake. Follow the caramel layer with a layer of about 3/4 cup of the ganache icing. [At this point I'd refrigerate for 5-10 mins to firm everything up] Sprinkle 1 tsp fleur de sel over the icing, then place the second layer on top and repeat process with another layer of caramel followed by a layer of ganache icing and salt. [Chill again] Place the remaining layer on top, spread with caramel and cover entire cake with a thin 'crumb-coat' of icing. [Chill about 15 mins to firm up] Top with remaining ganache icing. Garnish with fleur de sel.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

No-Knead Bread

No-Knead Bread
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450°F. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven and turn dough over into pot. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is browned.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What I've Made Lately

The text edition! As I've misplaced my camera battery charger and I've run out of batteries, there has been a sad lack of picture taking in my kitchen. So, I've decided to provide the links to things I've made lately instead of lots of boring wall-of-text posts.

Acorn Squash Quesadillas
From Smitten Kitchen. I added some refried beans and regular jarred salsa rather than homemade. Verdict: delicious.

Skillet Carrots

From Orangette. I made these as a side dish to some perfectly grilled lamb chops and ate them on my balcony with some red wine and a good book. Verdict: extremely tasty.

Stir-fried Celery

From The Wednesday Chef. I put these on some chow mein noodles and managed to choke down half the bowl before I gave up and made dumplings instead. Way too salty, way too spicy. Verdict: skip it.

Artichoke, Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto
From Smitten Kitchen again. I used regular mushrooms and canned artichokes instead of shiitakes and fresh. Verdict: meh. I prefer my asparagus lightly boiled or roasted and crispy, I'm not a big fan of artichoke and the mushrooms turned the rice kinda grey. I ate it all but won't make it again.

French Toast à la Baldini
Two pieces of French toast with peaches and brie sandwiched between. I usually add chives or green onions or sub in frozen mixed berries when I can't find cheap peaches. Topped with Dad's maple syrup, bien sûr. Verdict: amazing, as always.

Pizza with Mushrooms, Onions, Tomatoes, Olives, Bacon, Green Peppers & Anchovies
From my lovely neighbourhood pizza parlour. Because occasionally I am too lazy to make dinner. Verdict: heavenly.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Warm Mushroom Salad

Warm Mushroom Salad with Hazelnuts and Pecorino
1/2 cup hazelnuts
2 tablespoons finely diced shallots
3 tablespoons sherry or a white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds mushrooms (cremini or a mix of wild mushrooms), cleaned and sliced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 ounces salad greens such as frisé, arugula or a mix of your choice
A 1 cup mix of fresh herbs (optional) such as chives, tarragon
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or a couple pinches of dried
1/4 cup sliced shallots
1/4 pound pecorino or another hard, sharp cheese (I used the parmesan I had in the fridge)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Toast the hazelnuts on a baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes, rolling them around once or twice to make sure they toast evenly. Rub nuts in a dish towel to remove skins then let cool. Chop the hazelnuts coarsely.

Whisk the shallots, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt together in a bowl and let sit for five minutes (this will soften and almost pickle the shallots), before whisking in 1/4 cup olive oil.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter until the butter foams. Add the mushrooms, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Sauté the mushrooms for about 5 minutes, until they’re softened but not limp (your cooking time will depend on the type of mushrooms you used). Toss in sliced shallots, cooking for an additional 2 minutes.

Spread salad greens on a plate. Sprinkle fresh herbs on top, if using. Spoon hot mushrooms over the salad greens. Pour three-quarters of the vinaigrette in the sauté pan and swirl it in the pan until heated. Season it with 1/4 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour over salad and toss carefully. Adjust to taste.

Use a vegetable peeler to shave cheese over the salad. Sprinkle with hazelnuts. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Birthday Cake

My friend Julie really loves lemon meringue, but I wanted to make her an actual birthday cake. Luckily I had this recipe bookmarked! It turned out pretty well but there are a few things I'd do differently next time:

1. Trim the cake tops so that everything stacks up evenly.
2. Chill the lemon curd longer (or make it ahead of time) so that it's not so drippy.
3. Check the cupboard to see if we have beaters when making the icing, since hand-whisking isn't going to get you anywhere with this meringue. I discovered our beaters after unsuccessfully trying to thicken the icing for about 10 minutes and I think if I used them for the whole thing it would have actually formed stiff peaks like it was supposed to and not been so melty. Not to mention I could have saved myself a lot of armwork on the cake batter (and everything else I've made this year).
4. Invest in a set of 9-inch pans so that I don't have to spend a few hours baking the layers one by one in my single 9-inch springform.

Lemon Meringue Cake

1-2-3-4 Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups sifted self-rising flour*
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4-inches above counter, then dropping flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

It's way easier to stack a cake when the layers are frozen, so throw these in the freezer for about an hour before you start assembling.

* Make your own at home with the following formula: 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour, minus 2 teaspoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Lemon Curd
From The Joy of Cooking
8 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3 lemons, zest grated and juiced

Place the ingredients in the double boiler over boiling water. Don’t let top pan touch the water. Cook and stir until mixture begins to gel or thicken ever-so-slightly. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate it to thicken.

This keeps, refrigerated, for about 1 week.

Seven-Minute Frosting
From The Joy of Cooking

5 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs whites at room temperature
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk first five ingredients together in a large, stainless-steel bowl. Set the bowl in a wide, deep skillet filled with about 1 inch of simmering water. Make sure the water level is at least as high as the depth of the egg whites in the bowl. Beat on high speed for exactly five minutes. Remove the bowl from the skillet and add vanilla, beating on high speed for two to three more minutes to cool.

Use this frosting the day it is made.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Not really food but food related

Sorry for posting lately but I was busy organising my spices, this included building a new spice cupboard.

Hopefully I will be back posting food soon