Friday, October 31, 2008

Gingerbread Cake




It's been a very long day of work and I decided to take a short break and just take a roam around the blog world. I stopped in to see Camilla at Enlightened Cooking and found a recipe called Moist, Dark Gingerbread. I commented and told her I was going straight into the kitchen to make it. I'm so sure she read it and said "Ya ya, whatever". Not only did I go into the kitchen straight away to make it, I doubled the recipe. I'm such a sucker for gingerbread.

Here's the original recipe on Camilla's blog.

Ingredients

1 and 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 and 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
1/2 cup molasses (dark Molasses, such as Grandma’s Brand)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Optional: powdered sugar for sprinkling

Method

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray an 8-inch square pan with nonstick cooking spray (or line with parchment or foil).

Whisk the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl

Whisk the brown sugar, buttermilk, molasses, melted butter and egg in a large bowl. Stir in flour mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 27-28 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Sprinkle gingerbread with powdered sugar. Makes 12 generous pieces.

Camilla, if you're listening, this cake is wonderful. It's 5 minutes to put together and the result is indeed moist and delicious. Thanks for the great recipe. StumbleUpon

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pizza Dough and Toppings - Daring Bakers October






This month's Daring Baker challenge comes to us from Rosa of Rosa's Ymmy Yums . The challenge is to make and toss your own pizza dough (I don't think I'll be applying as a pizza tosser any time soon) and then top with your toppings of choice. This month's was a really fun challenge - not too complicated and highly satisfying. It's actually rare for me to eat pizza and I tend to stick to the traditional type toppings. This dough was really wonderful and gets two thumbs up.


~ BASIC PIZZA DOUGH ~

Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

Ingredients:
4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled - FOR GF: 4 ½ cups GF Flour Blend with xanthan gum or 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup corn flour, 1 cup oat flour, 1 ½ cup arrowroot, potato or tapioca starch + 2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast - FOR GF use 2 tsp
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar - FOR GF use agave syrup
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

DAY ONE

Method:
1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).


2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.


NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.
The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

Or

2. FOR GF: Add the oil, sugar or agave syrup and cold water, then mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.



NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.



DAY TWO

8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.




Or

8. FOR GF: On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the number of desired dough balls from the refrigerator. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with a gluten free flour. Delicately press the dough into disks about ½ inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil. Lightly cover the dough round with a sheet of parchment paper and allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

Or

10. FOR GF: Press the dough into the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough).

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.
During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.
In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.
You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

Or

11. FOR GF: Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.







Or

12. FOR GF: Place the garnished pizza on the parchment paper onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.

Or

13. FOR GF: Follow the notes for this step.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving. StumbleUpon

Monday, October 27, 2008

Anzac Cookies




A tribute to Australia.....

When my cousin from Australia was coming to Canada for a visit I talked to her about Anzac cookies, known in Australia and not so much here in Canada. After all, they are a custom of Australians (usually women) who while anxiously awaiting the return of their soldiers from WWI would bake these very crunchy cookies and send them abroad. The custom stuck and I've seen several posts about these delightful cookies from our friends down under. When my cousin arrived, I was thrilled that she actually brought me some as well as a recipe from her friend. I've been wanting to recreate these for quite some time and today was the day.

I actually saved a package for PG (one of the two that came) but unfortunately by the time Psychgrad got them they seem to have turned rock hard. If there are any Aussie readers who know how to keep them, I'd appreciate the tip.


Ingredients

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup coconut
1/2 cup butter or margarine (melted)
1 Tbsp golden syrup
2 Tbsp. boiling water
1 tsp soda

Method

1. Mix together oats, flour, sugar and coconut
2. Mix soda with the boiling water, add to melted butter and syrup
3. Add dry ingredients, mix until blended
4. On greased baking sheet, drop by Tbsp.
Note: The mixture seemed dry to me so after I dropped them by tablespoon on to the baking sheet, I pressed down on them slightly with the base of a drinking glass.
5. Bake at 375 F for 10-15 minutes (watch carefully as they can burn rather quickly)



Psychgrad's note: This cousin also brought Lamingtons, which is another recipe I'd like to try.



Giz's comment Obviously Psychgrad and I think alot alike - I have the recipe sitting on my desk right now. The Anzacs were really simple - The Lamingtons look a little more involved.



Oh yes, I know, this has nothing to do with Anzac cookies but when my brother came over with a bag and stuck it in my face and said "smell this", it did peak my interest when I saw what was in the bag. Remember the candy you open, stick your finger into and lick it off and it tastes like deep purple grapes? That's what these grapples smell like.





Thank you to Ivy from Kopiaste for awarding us this lovely award. Yummy is such a descriptive food word, isn't it? Don't we all want to be yummy or some derivitive of that? We'll be sure to share this award with some of our yummy bloggers in another post. StumbleUpon

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Turkey Soup




For the Canucks, Thanksgiving is now a faint memory and all that's left is the turkey carcass. BUT that's not a bad thing. We have pictures of a great meal and the makings of a warm soup. Don't throw out the carcass. It's a whole other meal.

Ingredients

1 turkey carcass
water to cover
1 large onion diced
2-3 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery diced
3-4 cloves garlic
2-3 potatoes, diced
2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil

Method

1. Soften onion, celery and carrots in olive oil. Add garlic
2. Add the turkey carcass and cover with water
3. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer. Add salt and pepper.
4. Let stock simmer for the flavours to infuse the soup.
5. Add diced potatoes and adjust seasonings, simmer until potatoes are done

This is a base soup. I generally will add whatever else I have around that looks like it could make the soup bolder, i.e. leeks, barley

There's really not much you can do to this soup to mess it up.
StumbleUpon

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Beef Brisket


A friend came over around Thanksgiving and we shared in the task of making a meal together. Actually, my kitchen is pretty small and I don't play nicely with others, so she made her course (soup) beforehand. Here's what I made:

First, you'll notice some apples, challah and honey. We also missed Rosh Hashanah, so we had to catch up on those two staples. You can also see the leak and potato soup my friend brought. It had cumin and cheddar cheese in it. It had a good flavour, but I would probably opt for a different cheese next time because the cheddar melts in a curdled-like consistency.


I was really excited about the cherry tomatoes. When I grow a garden again, I'll be planting lots of these.


The salad included mini bocconcini and some of my window sill basil.


This salad is on my top 10 favourite discoveries (or Caprese salad in general) of 2008 (yes, I'm behind).

But the best part of the meal was the brisket. As I mentioned, I love horseradish. On occasion, I look for recipes that will be good with horseradish. Brisket is one of those recipes. Not to mention that it's hard to screw up and tastes great. This time, I used a Noreen Gilletz recipe.

Marinated Brisket

3-4 onions
4-5 lb brisket
2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp dry mustard
4 cloves garlic
½ cup soya sauce
2-3 Tbsp honey or maple syrup

Slice onions, place in bottom of a large roasting pan. Rub brisket on all sides with salt, pepper, paprika and mustard. Place in pan

Drop garlic through feed tube of processor or mince by hand, add soya sauce and honey and either process 2-3 seconds or mix together. Pour mixture over brisket and rub into meat on all sides. Cover pan with tinfoil. Let marinate at least 1 hour at room temperature (or overnight in fridge)

Bake covered at 325 F. Allow 45 minutes per pound, or until meat is fork tender. Uncover for the last hour and baste occasionally. Let stand 20-30 minutes before slicing. Reheat for a few minutes in pan gravy.


Part way through cooking the brisket, I decided that I should also make potatoes. So, I added a bunch of potatoes to the roaster along with about 2 cups of water and a beef bouillon cube.


Delicious! With a 4 lb brisket, we had about 8-10 portions - which made for great leftovers. I also shared this recipe with a colleague who made it with a more tender cut of beef. It ended up more like pulled beef, but was a hit with her family.

I'm sending this recipe to World Food Day - Thanksgiving event being planned by Ivy and Bellini Valli.


The purpose of this event is to continue bringing awareness to hunger problems that exist around the world and which seem to be getting worse day after day. Ivy would like for us to talk about why we are thankful for what we have.

I really like the way Peanut Butter Boy put it a while ago. He said, "We are a lucky bunch indeed, we even have sophisticated electronic devices that can fit on your lap so we can talk about food with each other - it's pretty incredible". My main concern when it comes to food is - what to make for dinner. Never - where am I going to find the money I need to buy food to eat for dinner.

I am also very thankfully to have loved ones to share this food with. Here's a closer look at the flowers on the table. R gave them to me on my birthday. With the exception of the gerberas (my favourite flower), the flowers are still going strong on my table (almost 3 weeks later).

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Zucchini Pumpkin Cake







Canadian Thanksgiving has come and gone but the one cup of leftover pumpkin puree has been staring me in the face and saying "please make me into something beautiful or really delicious". I looked a little to see what I could find to combine both zucchini and pumpkin and Recipe Zaar didn't disappoint. You can find the recipe here.

For our friends outside of Canada who may plan a Thanksgiving dinner, this won't disappoint you and it can be made in advance and frozen.

Ivy of Kopiaste and Val from More Than Burned Toast planned and beautifully executed an event in October bringing awareness to World Food Day and more importantly to the plight of those less fortunate than we are both here at home and around the world. Although the event was highly successful, it began to take on a life of its own with a mission to do more for this cause. It's about food, it's about feeding those who don't have enough and it's about doing something more tangible than just giving lip service.

As Ivy so ably stated:

"November is the month of Thanksgiving, we as Foodies have more reasons to be thankful with all that we have. Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States on November 27th but that does not mean that bloggers from Australia, India, China, New Zealand, Africa, Europe (or in whichever part of the world you live in) do not have plenty of reasons to be thankful.

Even if Thanksgiving is not celebrated worldwide, it’s a great start to being thankful for what we have. For this November event we can prepare anything we like..make it something festive (not necessarily expensive) and it may be a main dish, a side dish a salad or a dessert. We would also like to hear along with these inspiring dishes why you are thankful and any other story you wish to share with us related to this subject.


For those who celebrate Thanksgiving you may wish to share one of your prized recipes or perhaps a decorating ideas for the holiday, or great tips you’ve gleaned elsewhere. The roundup will be posted a few days before Thanksgiving to give you time to prepare yourselves for the celebration".



Sometimes "good things" don't always look very pretty but do leave an impact. In aid of this cause I'm sending my "not so pretty but has a great personality" Zucchini Pumpkin Cake for this Thanksgiving event.

Ivy, Val and I are working behind the scenes developing concrete contributions that will unfold over the next little while. Hunger is not just yesterday or today. For many, hunger is a way of life. Whatever small contribution we can make, we're in it for the duration.

Ingredients:

4 eggs
1 cup salad oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar (1 used 1/2 cup)
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup canned pumpkin
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1 cup pine nuts (I used walnut pieces)
1 cup raisins

Method:

1. Grease and flour 2 - 9 inch cake pans or 1 - 10x13 pan (or you could probably use bread pans too) and set aside
2. Preheat oven to 350 F
3. Beat eggs to blend, add oil, sugar and vanilla
4. Continue beating until thick and foamy
5. Stir in zucchini and pumpkin
6. Mix remaining ingredients in a separate bowl
7. Stir dry mixture gently into zucchini mixture just until blended



8. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean


This recipe also calls for a cream cheese icing that would be to die for but I didn't make it solely because I'll end up eating the whole cake. I think I could eat anything that had cream cheese icing on it.

StumbleUpon

Friday, October 17, 2008

Food from Around the World


Go check out the wonderful round up of recipes over at Bellini Valli's in recognition of World Food Day. Together with Ivy, from Kopiaste, Bellini Valli is raising awareness about world food security issues. Future plans are in the works to continue raising awareness about these food security and I know Giz is working with these ladies on these plans.

The premise of this event was to have submission of family or regional favourites that used local and seasonal ingredients. The goal of this event is to create a "conga line" of food, where a long line up of dishes can feed everyone on the street. The hope is that this conga line will continue to grow to reach neighbourhoods, communities, cities, regions, and countries.

There is a great range of dishes from a variety of cultures. Go check it out!

Sticking with the theme of food and culture, I wanted to share a bit of a hodge podge of some recent experiences I've had with food and culture. Although food is only one element of a culture, it is (with a bit of effort) accessible to those from other cultural communities. Plus, in some ways, it creates an appreciate for or a small understanding of a cultural community other than the one with which you primarily identify.

Although Canada is a multicultural country, only French and English are given official language status. This means, for example that food products are required to contain information in both French and English. For most of the country, the use of the second official language is a rarity. But for many, bilingualism is a reality of every day life. Usually, but not always, fluent bilingualism is a skill held by Francophones. Being a minority in Canada, the chance that they will use (and learn) English is greater than it is for Anglophones.

If you watch this video, you can listen to a small portion of an ice cream-making demonstration I went to a while ago. The woman giving the demonstration says everything in both English and French with ease. Granted, even for those who are bilingual, this type of fluidity between languages requires practice.



Later that day, R and I went to a local Greek Festival.

How many festivals can you buy entire roast goats at? This one, for sure. Since we weren't really into bringing a full goat home we took advantage of the gyros.



Here's my question though....If Greek salad doesn't include lettuce - why is there lettuce in the Greek salad at a Greek festival?


Last, but not least....Below are a video and pictures from my first time trying hot pot. I actually had no idea what it was when a friend invited us over for dinner. She was excited to share hot pot with us. My first thought was....hmmm...sounds illegal. Turns out - it's not. Plus, it's really good.

Wikepedia says that "hot pot, or less commonly Chinese fondue, refers to several Chinese varieties of steamboat stew. It consists of a simmering metal pot of stock at the center of the dining table. While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table. Typical hot pot dishes include thinly sliced meat, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, egg dumplings, and seafood".

Here's what the setup looked like:



Our hot pot included meatballs (already in the broth), shrimp, thinly sliced beef and squid. There were also mushrooms, baby bok choy and noodles.


StumbleUpon

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Prince Edward County - Arts & Restaurant


Psychgrad did the introduction to our weekend in Prince Edward Country and shared our "Taste" and winery experiences with you. After a full day of tasting both foods and wines, we headed back to the hotel for some R&R before leaving for our evening dinner at a highly recommended restaurant in the area. The drive was about 28 kilometers but it was pitch black down winding country roads so we decided to put our hands into trusty "Emily", aka GPS. I'm not sure Emily knew the shortest route and directed us in what we later realized was a much longer drive. Since nobody really trusts my driving (I don't get it personally - just because my night vision is slightly impaired), lucky "R" got to be the driver.

Psychgrad's note: The GPS was affectionately named Emily after the automated attendant that works for Bell, a telephone provider that we all hate.

Now "R" is not the guy to use profanities very much but this ride was different. I thought keeping my mouth shut (a novelty for me) during this stressful, lights glaring in your eyes drive was a good option. A half hour late for our reservation we arrived at a very quaint looking place called The Waring House .

Psychgrad's note: I'll have to disagree on this one - R really held back on the swearing (and yo mama jokes) for my mother's sake.



We noticed that a variety of events were happening that evening - a busy pub, a happy looking wedding and a more subdued restaurant.

Psychgrad ordered a local wine from a local winery called The Grange



Good pick Psychgrad - a really lovely wine. The next day we actually visited The Grange looking for that specific wine but unfortunately it was sold out.

Psychgrad and I shared the Heirloom Tomato Salad - local heirloom tomatoes - really delicious in the height of their season. It was a promise of great things to come.
I must apologize for the pretty lousy pictures - it was pretty dark in the restaurant.



R ordered the pork chop. Is it me or do pork chops just seem rare on a fine dining menu?



No matter, "R" was pretty happy with his meal.

Psychgrad ordered the steak that turned out to be a good pick

I seem to have lost the picture of the chicken dish that I ordered.

The food was ok - not spectacular but ok. Since we had heard so many good things about both the restaurant and the chef we thought we must have hit a tough night. Service was slow and we thought our waiter, who seemed unfamiliar with the menu and the wines, was the owner's good friend helping him out in time of need.

Psychgrad's note: If you're going to charge top prices, the service should match it. To be fair, though, I think that this was a tough night for them. With the influx of people for Taste!, I would guess that the experience would be better on a different night.

I also think we were also anticipating having to drive back the 28 km in pitch darkness.

The next day we continued our journey visiting a variety of artisan shops that are well organized on what they call The Arts Trail.



Although we wished we could have more time (and money) to visit all of the artists, we also knew that it would be impossible so we stuck to particular ones of interest within close proximity to one another. I'm always amazed at the incredible talent and dedication artists have. Here is just a smattering of some of the very beautiful things we had the pleasure of seeing.









Sadly, the time flew by so quickly but what a great way to spend a weekend and I'm committed to going back and visit the places we missed this trip.
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