Monday, March 30, 2009

Guest Host: Bookmarked Recipes


It is my pleasure to host this week's round up of Bookmarked Recipes. Bookmarked Recipes is a weekly roundup spearheaded by Ruth of Ruth's Kitchen Experiments. Currently in its 47th week, the roundup features recipes we've bookmarked from other sources (e.g., blogs, cookbooks, websites, etc.).

As always, this week's round up features some beautiful dishes.

First up is Tami's Kitchen Table Talk. She shares Spicy Orange Beef with Vegetables that she found on Family Corner.com. I think it's about time for another stirfry!

Maggie from Dog Hill Kitchen shares Dairy-Free TKOs (Tomas Keller Oreos), a recipe adapted from from Jumbo Empanadas' recipe for Baby TKOs. The original recipe comes from Thomas Keller in Essence of Chocolate. Looks like a knockout to me! (sorry...I couldn't resist the pun)


Next up is my Mamster's submission (I'm stealing Grace's name for her mom). Giz from Equal Opportunity Kitchen shows us the Baked Risotto with Asparagus, Spinach and Parmesan that she found from 3 Books in 1 - Appetizers, Party Food and Entertaining. What could be better than risotto that you don't have to stand over for 30 minutes?


Also from Equal Opportunity Kitchen, here are my Oatmeal Raisin Applesauce Cookies. Since we're all friends here, I'll be honest and say - they weren't the best cookie in the world. But, as far as healthier baked goods go, they're not bad. In case you're wondering what's up with the chocolate chips, I only had enough raisins for 50% of the cookies and used chocolate chips for the rest. Here's the original HubPages source for the recipe.


Ivy from Kopiaste shares the Falafel she made. The original recipe comes from Val at More than Burnt Toast. I loved reading Ivy's post about her experience at the market to find cilantro and chives - go check it out!


Also, check out the great work Galvy (my petname for Giz, Ivy and Val) is/are doing with BloggerAid to raise funds and awareness for world hunger.

Ben from What's Cooking shares a recipe for Whole-Wheat Quesadillas. The recipe comes from Ask Sasha.com. Ben's tortillas are filled with cuitlacoche and flor de calabaza, two ingredients that remind Ben of the food he ate while growing up in Central Mexico. Looks delicious. I think I need to take a week long course in Mexican cooking from you.


Also, check out Ben's Homemade Food Event. It's definitely an event in which I would like to participate in the near future! Ben will be posting his roundup for this month's theme, Homemade Bread, shortly. Stay tuned for next month's theme!

Last, but not least, is the hostess with the mostess: Ruth from Ruth's Kitchen Experiments. Ruth shares a Buttermilk Chicken recipe from Nigella Express. There's something about that juice coming of the front-most chicken leg that is making me very hungry.


Thanks everyone for your submissions!!! It's always exciting to see what people have been making and recreating as well as meeting some new bloggers.

Next week’s round up will be hosted by Ivy from Kopiaste.

That's it for this week. Remember if you want to take part here's all you have to do....
1. Pick a recipe from a book/magazine/blog/website/tv show and make it. (Note you can only submit 1 recipe per week)
2. Blog about it
- include where you got the recipe in your blog post (including a link to their website if possible)
- include a link to this post or this blog in your blog post
- include the logo (see above) for Bookmarked Recipes in your blog post
- include a photo of your recreation on your blog post
3. Email bookmarkedrecipes[AT]gmail[DOT]com with the following information:
- Your name
- The name of your blog
- The URL of your blog
- The permalink for your entry
- A photo of your entry
- A note of where you got your recipe from

StumbleUpon

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Capital Cupcake Camp!



I am so excited! I am so high on sugar!

I just got back from spending the day at Captial Cupcake Camp. I have never seen so many cupcakes in my entire life and I had "backstage access" to all of them.

What is Captial Cupcake Camp? CupcakeCamp was originally the brainchild of a group of folks in San Francisco. The idea was to bring together cupcake lovers, bakers, and eaters. The first one was a huge success so we brought it to Canada. CupcakeCamp is an opportunity for our community to come together and share their enthusiasm for cupcakes with all proceeds going to a local charity.

Here's my snazzy t-shirt that I got for volunteering at the event.


Ah...my fingers won't keep up to the pace of my the sugar-infiltrated brain!

Here's the MC for the event, Chinadoll, from Shanghai Restaurant:


Some fellow bloggers were in attendance. I met one of the ladies from Duh-Licious. They are quite the operation with their business cards and t-shirt.


I presume these cupcakes come from Apartment 613:


I also picked up a business card from Plum Cake. Based on the picture from their blog, I think this cupcake is one of theirs:



Local cupcake makers were also represented...

Cupcakery


Three Cheers Cupcakes. I presume these are theirs:


L'Oven


(I believe they won an award as well)

Volunteers brought out trays of cupcakes and it was pretty much first grab, first served.



As I said, there was such a massive variety of cupcakes. Here are some of the ones I thought were cute (and managed to get a picture of):

One of my favourites - the centre part of the flower is an oreo cookie (I think this one won an award for creativity):


So adorable:









Mom - here are some of the ones I thought would be nice for the wedding (not necessarily in these colours):




Definitely a successful event. With over 3000 cupcakes, this is the largest Camp Cupcake event to date. Kudos to the organizers!

Some suggestions I would have....In terms of making money, improving the flow of people (there were long line-ups) and reducing waste, I would recommend selling tickets for each cupcake. Something like a dollar per cupcake and maybe 5 cupcakes for $3. I saw many people taking a bite out of a cupcake and then setting it down. With the exchange of a ticket, people will be less likely to waste, gorge for 3 hours on infinite amounts of cupcakes and take precious space away from those waiting in line. I'd also recommend getting more sponsorship. I could see an organic milk company (like the ones in my last post) doing really well at something like this. Also, a company like Pampered Chef would have a great, relatively captive, audience here.

In the end, there were a lot of leftover cupcakes. Most volunteers left with a care package. R was quite pleased to see me walk in with this:


Which cupcake design do you like best??? StumbleUpon

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour & Green Expo




Earth Hour is today. From 20:30-21:30, people around the world are turning off their lights. A main premise of Earth Hour is that each individual can make a contribution. In December 2009 world leaders meet in Copenhagen to agree on a post-Kyoto policy for tackling climate change. One billion people voting with their light switch during Earth Hour will create a powerful mandate for our leaders to take strong and decisive action on climate change in Copenhagen.



************************************************************
Last weekend, I went to a local expo promoting all things green (transportation, food, households, alcohol, etc...). R and I are slowly trying to incorporate more and more green options into our life. Almost all of our bulbs are compact fluorescent, I'm switching over all of my cleaning products to natural products, and we use cloth bags for about 85% of our shopping. There's more that I would like to do like composting and eating more organically. I'm thinking organic milk might be a good first step.




Giz - I bought plates and cups from this stand for the Saturday night wedding event. If you think it's too casual, we can switch to plates, but at least we have a biodegradable option.



One of my favourite parts of the show was a food demonstration given by John Taylor from Domus Restaurant. Domus is a local restaurant that works very hard to acquire their food locally or regionally. They market themselves as "The first in Canadian, Regional, Seasonal Cuisine with menu items consisting of only the freshest of local ingredients provided by Canadian suppliers and directly delivered from local-area farms".

Here's a video of John promoting buying locally and some of what they do to have access to local products year round.



One message that consistently came across during the show was the power of the consumer. Products are on the shelf because people buy them. If consumers are demanding more local foods or organic options, your grocers will stock them.

I wasn't expecting the drama toward the end of the show. John asked if there were any questions and someone from the audience started to question Domus' practice of using foie gras on their menu. There is a fair bit of controversy when it comes to foie gras.

Among a slew of accusations, the man in the audience claimed that the ducks were factory farmed. When asked if the accuser had visited a foie gras farm, he said, "no".

Here's the tail end of the argument:



My experience at a foie gras farm certainly showed no evidence of factory farming. The ducks had plenty of space and could roam pretty freely in- and out-doors.



I wouldn't say that John handled the situation particularly well. What you don't see in the video is John removing his headset and going into the crowd to get up in the guy's face. It seems for a second that things would get physical (they didn't). On the other hand, I can understand John's frustration and felt badly for him. I think Domus is doing a lot of good work to spread the word about local food and that line of questioning undermines their work.

The show ended relatively abruptly from there. But, we were given a tasty sample of a mushroom bean soup:

StumbleUpon

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Baked Risotto with Asparagus, Spinach and Parmesan


I found this cookbook in the cupboard. A title like "3 Books in 1 - Appetizers, Party Food and Entertaining" offered some interest when looking to create a full meal with one book. It was a hand me down from Auntie Takeout who by virtue of her name alone, doesn't cook so why would she need a cookbook. Good for me!

I've never tried preparing a baked risotto and how fortunate that I had all the ingredients in the house.



Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup arborio rice
8 cups (8 to 10 oz) spinach leaves, torn into pieces
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups diagonally slice asparagus

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray 13x9 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir 4 minutes or until tender. Add rice; stir to coat with oil.
3. Stir in spinach, a handful at a time, adding more as it wilts. Add broth, salt and nutmeg. Reduce heat and simmer 7 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup cheese.
4. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Cover tightly and bake 15 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and stir in asparagus; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Cover and bake 15 minutes more or until liquid is absorbed.

Makes 6 servings.



I'm sending this recipe to Bookmarked Recipes hosted this week by our very own Psychgrad. Do I hear the bagpipes?? Oh.... I thought I did.
The roundup comes out on Mondays so get your recips in to bookmarkedrecipes (at)gmail (dot)com.

I would make this again! StumbleUpon

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bookmarked Recipes & Oatmeal Raisin Applesauce Cookies


This week is my turn to host Bookmarked Recipes, originated by Ruth's Kitchen Experiments. If you'd like to participate, simply make and blog about a recipe from a magazine, cookbook, blog or website (which means that most posts can qualify for this roundup). The roundup is posted on Monday!

1. Pick a recipe from a book/magazine/blog/website/tv show and make it. (Note you can only submit 1 recipe per week)
2. Blog about it
- include where you got the recipe in your blog post (including a link to their website if possible)
- include a link to this post or this blog in your blog post
- include the logo (see above) for Bookmarked Recipes in your blog post
- include a photo of your recreation on your blog post
3. Email bookmarkedrecipes[AT]gmail[DOT]com with the following information:
- Your name
- The name of your blog
- The URL of your blog
- The permalink for your entry
- A photo of your entry
- A note of where you got your recipe from

***********************************************************
Here's my submission to Bookmarked Recipes...

I decided to take a brief pause from my baking hiatus.

This past Thursday was the second to last knitting night at the knitting store (sob!). Regardless of whether the wool, patterns, etc. were purchased at the store, I can count on getting help there. This is great because I've needed a lot of help. I've been going into at least weekly to get help with some sort of screw up on my shawl. I'm telling you - this Victorian Lace is going to make me crazy. The thing about knitting is that you're only as good as your ability to fix your mistake. The patterns in and of themselves aren't generally very difficult. It's just being able to undo something when you get off track that can be the tricky part.


I wanted to bring in a treat for the ladies in the store, but mainly for the one woman who helps me out regularly. So, I decided to bring cookies.

Oatmeal Raisin Applesauce Cookies
original source


Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour (or whole-wheat)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg
1/2 cup applesauce (or use 1 cup and increase flour by 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (for variety, try almond extract)

1 1/3 cups oats
3/4 cup raisins

Optional:

½ cup walnuts.
½ teaspoon of a spice like cinnamon or nutmeg.

Instructions:

Pre-heat your oven to 375°F.Thinly cover baking sheet(s) with butter, margarine, or cooking spray. In the mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a second bowl, or in the bowl of the electric mixer, cream the butter and both sugars together until smooth (I use a bowl and a fork). Slightly beat the egg with a fork in a cup. To the second mixing bowl, add applesauce, the egg, and the vanilla. Mix or stir until smoothly mixed. Add the applesauce mixture to the flour mixture slowly and mix thoroughly. If using an electric mixer, remove the bowl.
Stir in the oats and raisins. Add nuts and spices if desired.

Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets about two inches apart.
Bake until golden brown: 10 to 12 minutes, depending on humidity of your location.
Remove the baking sheet(s) from the oven and cool on wire racks or tea towels (5-6 minutes). Remove cookies from baking sheet(s) with a spatula and allow to cool more completely on a cookie plate. Store in a cookie jar or air-tight container.


Overall, the cookies were lower-cal - so that's a plus. But, I can't say they were amazing. The whole wheat flour makes for a very chewy-textured cookie. Plus, being lower in sugar, they didn't have a prominent sugar flavour that gives taste to most cookies. But, the cookies achieved their goal - to express my gratitude for all of the help I've received from the store. The lady that helps me regularly said, "Isn't that nice...you brought cookies for the teacher". StumbleUpon

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Black Bottom Cupcakes


One of the life lessons that I've learned and come to embrace is that plans can change in a heartbeat. Today was "Giz gets to do whatever she wants day". I did everything to accomodate that day other than having it declared a national holiday (as if I had the power). It started off really well - made some hot coffee, started looking through cookbooks; more specifically baking books. My goal was to experiment with a new cupcake (new to me anyways) looking for an interesting prospect for the cupcake wedding cake we're planning for Psychgrad's wedding. I was looking at More from Magnolia and saw the black bottom cupcakes. I've seen them a few times on blogs and made my selection.

Just as I finished part 1 of the recipe there was a call from the lobby. My lovely niece, Ms "E" chimed, let me in Auntie Giz. I learned she was planning a trip to the mall (directly across from where I live) and .... "whoa Auntie Giz, you're making cupcakes....I get to ice". Ok, now I'm in trouble. "I called it Auntie Giz; you get to make supper and I'll ice but you have to make the icing and make sure it's pink". Bullied by a 12 year old - ok, so I don't mind that much although pink wasn't what I was thinking. "See you later Auntie G - going to the mall to spend all my mom's money".



Cream Cheese Filling

3/4 pound (one and a half 8-ounce packages)cream cheese (not softened)
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Cupcakes

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil (preferably canola)
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F
Line 18 muffin tins with cupcake papers

To make the cream cheese filling:
1. In a medium-size bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
2. Add the egg and beat well. Stir in the chocolate chips. Set aside.

To make the cupcakes:
1. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the oil and sugar. Add the dry ingredients in two parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla, and making sure all ingredients are well blended.
3. Carefully spoon the cupcake batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about two-thirds full.
4. Drop a small scoop (about 1 1/2 Tbsp) of the cream cheese filling on top of each cupcake. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
5. Cook the cupcakes in the tins for 30 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack.

Considering that Ms. E isn't too familiar with piping, I think she did a pretty amazing job. The next real challenge will be to teach her how to properly clean up after herself.



The verdict: Really good cupcakes - keeping them on the list for "maybe these would be good for 1 variety for the wedding tower". StumbleUpon

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sugar Shack


Spring is quickly approaching in Canada. The amount of snow this year is much more tolerable than last year. Here's a video of my balcony last year.



This year, there isn't a drop of snow left on it (knock on wood).

Thankfully, there was some snow left on the ground, a couple of weekends ago, when we went skiing. The lake is melting...


And the snow is getting a crunchy from melts during the day and freezes at night.


But, the weekend was beautiful as always.




Another sign that Spring is on its way is the beginning of maple syrup season. Syrup producers are making up for lost time. Last year, with the insane amount of snow we got, syrup production was really slow. But this year, conditions are much better with overnight freezes but mild temperatures during the day.

We decided to go to a small sugar shack operation.


Often, sugar shacks include a full artery-plugging selection. Like this one I went to last year. This time, it was just a pancake breakfast.

I was fine with that. But, I must admit to being somewhat underwhelmed by the flat-looking pancakes. The pancakes at Giz's sugarshack looked more natural and fluffy.

But the syrup was delightful. Unfortunately, with reduced syrup production in previous years, the price of syrup is up about 40%. It'll take a couple more years to replenish the stock. Who knows if prices will every return to their lower amount. I paid $6 for 500 ml a couple of years ago. Now, it's about $6 for 250 ml (depending on the type of bottle you're buying, glass vs plastic jug).


For as far as the eye can see, there are maple trees with metal syrup-collecting buckets attached. This syrup is then reduced, for a much higher concentration of sugar.




It's always a nice touch at the end of meal, when you get your hardened syrup on a stick. Here's a volunteer from the sugarshack rolling it.



Extreme close-up!


Continuing with the maple syrup theme, I decided to make a recipe I saw on Cathy from Noble Pig's site and, subsequently, on Kevin from Closet Kitchen's site.

Maple and Mustard Glazed Chicken
(makes 2 servings)


Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts (pounded flat)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1 cup bread crumbs (I used a mixture of regular bread crumbs and panko bread crumbs)
4 tablespoons maple syrup
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon thyme (chopped)
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:
1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Dredge the chicken in the flour.
3. Dip the chicken into the egg.
4. Dredge the chicken in the bread crumbs.
5. Heat the oil in a pan
6. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.
7. Mix the maple syrup, Dijon mustard, whole grained mustard, brown sugar and thyme in a bowl.
8. Place the chicken in a baking pan and brush the maple mustard mixture onto it heavily.
9. Bake in a preheated 400F oven for 10 minutes.


The chicken was delicious. If you ask me, the marinade would suffice for 3-4 chicken breasts.

Check out Kevin's post all about recipes that include maple syrup. Also, don't forget to visit Giz's earlier post on her experience at a sugar shack.

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