Saturday, June 27, 2009

Daring Baker's Challenge -Bakewell Tart

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England

I must confess, I've never heard or tasted a Bakewell Tart before so I was excited to try this recipe and see what it was all about. I decided to make the traditional Bakewell Tart with raspberry jam which worked out well since I had 1 jar of raspberry freezer jam left in my freezer that I needed to use up before jam making time rolls around again. The tart dough was very easy to put together as was the frangipane layer. I plan on using the tart dough recipe again since I loved the shortbread taste and texture it had and think it would go well with so many different types of fillings. I loved the finished product that this recipe produced. The almond flavour with the raspberry filling was really delicious and for the minimal effort this tart took to make it totally tasted and looked like something that came from a bakery. Needless to say I will most certainly be making this tart again and want to thank Jasmine and Annemarie for introducing me to it!

Here is a photo diary of the process:

Tart dough mixed, balled and ready to "chill":
Frangipane layer mixed and ready to go:
Raspberry Freezer Jam that I made last summer:
Tart dough ready to fill:
First layer: Raspberry Freezer Jam:
Topped with frangipane layer and ready for the oven:
Tart just out of the oven: Cooled, sliced and ready to eat!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

For my Dad...

Although Blackforest Cake is not my absolute favourite cake in the world my father loves it so this year for Father's Day I made it for him and he was very happy I did. Although it's not a difficult cake to make it does take some time since you have to make the cake layer, the boozed up cherry filling, a boozy syrup to soak into the cake and of course copious amounts of sweetened whipped cream. It's definitely a cake to make or serve to someone who appreciates Blackforest Cake in all it's chocolaty, cherry, boozy glory and my Father certainly did! Happy Father's Day Dad :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Daring Cooks Challenge-Chinese Dumplings/Pot Stickers

This months challenge was brought to us Daring Cooks by Jen from use real butter . I am so happy to report that she selected one of my most favourite things to eat Chinese Dumplings/Pot Stickers. I totally love these little filled dough "purses" but have only ever had the frozen ones at Costco so I was more than excited to actually make my own.

The dough and filling (other than all the chopping) was super easy...pleating not-so-much. My Mom and I make perogies all the time so I was used to stuffing rounds of dough but with perogies you just pinch the ends together, these little babies required special care and dedication. I guess mine came out okay in the end and they didn't fall apart once I steamed them so I "think" I did good~lol I decided to make the Pork/Shrimp filling combo and the only change I made was to decrease the amount of ginger, I'm not a huge fan so I only put maybe 1 tsp of grated ginger in my filling mixture. I loved the flavour of these, especially the crunchy addition of the water chesnuts which I've never had in a Chinese Dumpling before. I steamed mine first, then lightly fried them using a non stick pan and a little bit of cooking spray. They were TOTALLY delish!!

Thanks Jen for choosing this challenge, the dumplings were a lot of fun to make and something I probably never would of attempted to make on my own but certainly will make again!! I apologize in advance for the crappy photography, it was late and I was tired~lol

The dough getting ready for a "rest"

Pork/Shrimp filling mixture:


Pinched and Pleated:

As you can see I made a couple different sizes:

Steamed Dumplings, I was sooo happy none of them opened up on me:

The link for the recipe is here Pot Stickers

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I LOVE guacamole, it requires such few ingredients but is oooh so good. This is an easy peasy recipe from my favourite "celebrity" chef Ina Garten. I've made it so many times I no longer need to refer to the recipe. I have an aversion to cilantro so I don't add it to my guacamole but for those that love it...add away.

Makes 3 cups

4 ripe Haas avocados
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
8 dashes of Tabasco sauce
1/2 cup small diced red onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 medium tomato, seeded, and small diced

-cut avocados in half, remove pits and scoop out the flesh into a large mixing bowl.
-add the rest of ingredients.
-mix well, mashing or dicing the mixture to your desired texture.
-serve with plain nachos.
**Tip, when storing guacamole place plastic wrap directly on top of guacamole to prevent the air from getting to it and turning it brown**

Fudgie Brownies

I love this recipe for brownies because you can literally throw in whatever ingredients you want and they turn out perfect everytime. I made these ones with chopped walnuts and of course chocolate chips but as the recipe suggests, you could put in "whatever floats your boat".

1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 cup chocolate chips (semisweet, white, butterscotch, peanut butter) or raisins or chopped marachino cherries or chopped nuts or M&M'or Reese's pieces or miniature marshmellows
1 Preheat oven to 350°F.
2 Grease an 8 inch square pan or line with foil.
3 In a medium bowl combine melted butter and cocoa and stir until cocoa is dissolved.
4 Add sugar and mix well.
5 Add eggs one at a time and stir until well combined.
6 Stir in vanilla, flour and salt until you no longer see any flour (do not overmix).
8 Spread in pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes.
9 DO NOT OVER-BAKE -- your brownies will come out dry. Adjust time/temp accordingly for your oven. If you do the knife/toothpick test, it should come out with moist crumbs, not clean.
10 Cool completely before cutting into squares.
11 For double recipe, bake in 9x12 pan and add 5 minutes to baking time.

An oldie but a goodie!!!!

I love to make fancy desserts but sometimes the simplest things are the best. There's nothing like a warm chocolate chip cookie and a big tall cold glass of milk. I found this recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies from one of my favourite food blogs Good Things Catered I know there are tonnes of recipes for this classic cookie recipe out there but this one really is the BEST. The recipe is easy to follow and the finished product is the way a chocolate chip cookie should be, a little crunchie on the outside but still soft (not raw) on the inside. Thanks again Katie for a wonderful recipe.

I used a small ice cream scoop to "form" my cookies:

Just out of the oven:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A different take on pizza...

Sometimes it’s nice to switch things up a bit and I make Stromboli when I’m craving pizza but want something different. A Stromboli is like a big pizza in jelly roll form. You can add anything you want to it just like when you make pizza. I like to serve mine with marinara sauce and leftovers are great reheated the next day.

Ground Beef-Pepperoni Stromboli

1 ball of frozen pizza dough, unthawed or you can make your own pizza dough from scratch
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, if desired to taste or 4-5 fresh minced garlic cloves, if desired to taste
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 lb ground beef or ground chuck, cooked and drained
1/4 lb sliced pepperoni, to taste
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, to taste
1 small onion, chopped

-Place each loaf of thawed bread dough in a greased glass bowl (turning once to grease top).
-Cover, and let rise in a warm place for approx 45 minutes, or until doubled; punch down dough. -Roll each loaf into a 15x12-inch rectangle.
-In a small bowl, mix or whisk together the eggs, oil, garlic, salt, pepper, mustard and oregano; brush evenly over EACH dough to within 1/2-inch of edges (this mixture may be doubled if desired).
-Set the remaining egg mixture aside.
-Arrange beef, onion, cheeses and pepperoni on the dough, within 1/2-inch of the edges.
-Roll up the doughs into jelly-roll style, beginning with the long end first; seal the edges very well.
-Place seam-side down on a greased baking/cookie sheet or sheets.
-Brush with remaining egg mixture.
-Bake in a 375 degree oven, for 30-35 minutes, or until lightly golden.
-Let stand 5-10 minutes before cutting.
-Serve with heated marinara sauce either store bought or made from scratch.

Rolled and ready for the oven:

Monday, June 8, 2009

Raspberry Brown Butter Tart

They had a sale on berries at the market this weekend and I love berries of any kind so I bought some delicious red raspberries and found a recipe for Raspberry Brown Butter Tart on the bon appetit web site. This is a simple recipe but produces something that is total bakery quality. Next time I make it I will probably double the recipe, especially if I use one of my round tart pans; I used a small rectangular tart pan and thought it could have used more raspberries, filling and crust. Anyways, this one is a winner and the minimal effort involved for a fabulous final product puts this one in the “keeper” file.

Another use for non-eaten bananas..

Once again, I bought bananas last week with the intent on eating one every morning for breakfast on my way to work and once again I ended up with an uneaten bunch of bananas by Friday. So when life gives you slowly rotting make Banana Coconut Cream Pie!!!

Banana Coconut Cream Pie


1 9-inch deep dish pie shell, baked
3 cups whole milk
1 cup shredded coconut

3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 bananas


-Have baked 9-inch pie shell ready.
-In a large saucepan, scald the milk.
-In another saucepan, combine the sugar, flour and salt; gradually stir in the scalded milk.

-Add coconut.
-Over medium heat, stirring constantly, cook until thickened.
-Cover and, stirring occasionally, cook for two minutes longer.
-In a small bowl, have the 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten, ready; stir a small amount of the hot mixture into beaten yolks; when thoroughly combined, stir yolks into hot mixture.
-Cook for one minute longer, stirring constantly.
-Remove from heat and blend in the butter and vanilla.
-Let sit until lukewarm.
-When ready to pour, slice bananas and scatter in pie shell; pour warm mixture over bananas.
-Let chill in fridge overnight.

I topped my pie with sweetened whipped cream, toasted coconut and of course a cherry!!

I had some leftover cream filling so I made 2 coconut custard cups with whipped cream.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I found some fresh rhubarb at the market this weekend and decided to make a pie after seeing a recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Pie on one of my favourite blogs Good Things Catered. I did have some minor ooozing issues with the filling and was glad I put a baking tray under the pie plate while it was baking but I think it turned out pretty good. Thanks for the recipe Katie!

Cookie of the Month mmmm...Strawberries

I love getting my monthly issue of Martha Stewart Living, as soon as I get it in the mail the first thing I do is flip to the back to see what the cookie of the month is. This month I was happy to see it involved strawberries (one of my favourite fruits). This cookie almost reminds me of a scone since it is very buttery and soft in texture. I loved this cookie and plan on putting it in my "keeper" file for future use. The original recipe says it yields 3 dozen cookies, I however only got 18, I guess mine were a bit bigger than Martha's.

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen (or in my case 18 really big cookies)

12 ounces strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4 inch dice (2 cups)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup heavy cream
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
-Combine diced strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
-Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and remaining 7 tablespoons of sugar in a large bowl.
-Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
-Stir in Cream until dough starts to come together, then stir in strawberry mixture.
-Using ice cream scoop or tablespoon, drop dough onto parchment lined baking sheets.
-Sprinkle with sanding sugar and bake until golden brown, 24 to 25 minutes.
-Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
-Martha says "cookies are best served immediately", but I actually liked them better the next day cold right out of the fridge.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Daring Baker's Challenge-Strudel

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

I was VERY excited about this challenge. Strudel is always something I've enjoyed eating but for some reason thought it was far too difficult to attempt on my own. Boy was I WRONG....this recipe was sooo easy and the end result was fantastic! I decided to make 1 batch of dough but split it into 2 strudels, one with the traditional apple filling and the other with a cherry cheese filling. They were both sumblime! This was a great challenge and the strudel dough recipe is one I plan on using again and again. Thanks Linda and Courtney!

Strudel dough after mixing all ingredients:

Dough oiled and ready for a rest:

First piece stretched out as far as I could:
Fresh breadcrumb application: Apple filling (I cooked the filling on the stove first just to make sure the apples wouldn't be hard) Cherry cheese filling:
Rolled and ready for the oven:

Final product:

Don't they look good!
Apple Strudel with Cognac infused Creme Anglais:

Apple strudelfrom “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers
2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum
3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe below)
1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)
1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl. 2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.
3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the walnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts.
4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.
5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

Strudel doughfrom “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers
1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.
2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).
3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.
4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lasagna Greek Style

No, I'm not Greek but I love their version of lasagna. While this recipe is a fair amount of work and be prepared to wash lots of dishes afterwards, it's a labour of love and your loved ones will thank you for it. I usually make the meat sauce the day before assembling this dish, that way it's not as long a process. This recipe makes a lot, I usually get one 9x13 pan and one slightly smaller oval casserole dish out of 1 batch, so it would be great to serve a crowd, or you could freeze cooked serving sized portions for those nights you just don't feel like cooking.

Serves 10-12

Meat Sauce Ingredients:
Enough olive oil to just coat the bottom of a large pot
2 large onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs lean ground beef
2 16 ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup red wine
1 cinnamon stick, broken in two

Meat sauce:

Pasta Ingredients:
1 lbs penne
8 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups whole milk
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup grated romano or parmesean cheese

Pasta:Bechamel Sauce Ingredients:

6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 eggs
1/2 lbs grated romano or parmesean cheese, divided

Bechamel Sauce:Directions:

-For the meat sauce, put some olive oil in a large pot, saute onion until lightly browned, add garlic, add meat and cook until brown, crumbling with a fork, add remaining meat sauce ingredients to skillet, mix well, cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until thick, let mixture cook, remove and discard cinnamon stick and bay leaf.
-Prepare pasta by boiling until al dente in plenty of boiling, salted water, drain and place pasta in a large bowl, add butter, milk, eggs and 1/2 cup cheese, gently stir to coat, set aside.
-To prepare bechamel sauce, melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan, stir in flour until smooth, cook whisking for 2 minutes, gradually add milk, stirring until thickened, lower heat, add salt pepper and nutmeg, remove from heat.
-In a medium sized bowl, beat 3 eggs, slowly add hot cream sauce to eggs, stir thoroughly so eggs don't curdle.
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a large baking pan.
-Empty 1/2 of the penne mixture over bottom of pan, cover evenly with all of the meat sauce, sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over meat sauce, add remaining penne mixture, spreading evenly, sprinkle another 1/3 of the cheese over top, pour bechamel sauce evenly over entire casserole, top with remaining cheese.
-Bake until bechamel sauce sets and has golden brown patches across top, 45 minutes-1 hour.
-Cool at least 20 minutes before cutting into pieces for serving.

Everything lined up and ready for assembly:

Assembled and ready to go into the oven:

Just out of the oven:

Crostini Anyone??

This is a simple snappy little snack or appetizer that we just love. There's something about oven roasted tomatoes paired with creamy goat cheese on a crusty piece of bread. Everyone I've served these to loves them and they're a great make ahead if you're having a party.

Oven Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Crostini
Makes 24 crostini


12 plum tomatoes

Olive oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

3 cloves of garlic minced

Chiffonade of Fresh Basil

1 Large French Stick, sliced into 24 rounds

1 lbs Soft Goat Cheese at room temperature


-Preheat oven to 425 degrees

-Quarter plum tomatoes and toss in a bowl with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper.

-Spread tomatoes on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

-Roast tomatoes for 35-40 minutes, remove from oven and let cool completely.

-Spread softened goat cheese on each french bread round.

-Place 2 pieces of sliced roasted tomato on the goat cheese and top with a sprinkling of basil.