Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Daring Challenge

So this month was my 1st ever DB challenge! and let's just say challenge would be an understatement, for me anyway.

A shout out to Chris from Mele Cotte for this month's challenge!!!

Let's start with the beginning...first off my oven, dead, and I mean dead. The broiler works and the stove works but of course not the OVEN!
So my wonderful and talented partner J. decided he would have at her and actually got the girl to work, well at least that what's we thought...
I had just come to the end of the genoise recipe and my folding of ingredients was complete. So I turn around to open the oven door and put my would be masterpiece in and nothing!!!!
NO heat, NO 375!
I let out a bloodcurdling scream with some profanity that would make a biker blush. Slammed the oven door shut and promptly walked over to my vacant neighbours house and preheated her oven all in which at the same time praying I would not have deflated eggs whites in this 30 degree weather.
Needless to say it turned out fine, maybe not as voluminous as I would have liked but the cake was a cake...phew!
After this most painstaking process I took a good week off from the challenge. I was motivated to make praline paste which was easy peasy and that's was about it.
So one evening before leaving for the cottage I got all my muster up and went B-A-N-A-N-A-S on the challenge. I made buttercream and ganache and syrup and glaze...then proceeded to put together my cake.
While slicing my cake I noticed it wouldn't make 3 layers...(damn oven) and I also forgot to syrup my first layer...oh well c'est la vie I guess.
The final product was yummy...however for me not worth the fuss...SORRY :(

Almond Genoise with Praline Buttercream

Adapted from "Great Cakes" by Carol Walter


Almond Genoise
Praline buttercream
Fruit Jam Glaze
Simple syrup
Chocolate Ganache

Almond Genoise:

One 9 inch cake sliced in 2 layers (or 3 if your an expert)

- 4 large egg yolks

- 1/2 cup sugar

- 4 large egg whites

- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

- 1 tbsp sugar

- 1/3 cup almonds, ground

- 1/2 cup AP flour

- 1 1/2 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line 2 - 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper then butter and flour bottom and sides.

In a bowl whisk whole eggs and sugar in a double boiler over hot water and beat until triple in volume then remove from water.

In another bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar to form soft peaks

Add sugar while beating

Fold egg whites into whole egg mixture and gently fold in ground almonds, flour and butter.

Distribute batter between the 2 pans. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until lightly brown and springy to touch. Cool in pans.

Can be made in advance and frozen or refrigerated once cool.

Praline Paste:

- 1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Almonds, toasted and skinless

- 2/3 cup Sugar

- Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter or a Silpat

Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet.

Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges.

Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly.

When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters.

Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. **Remember – extremely hot mixture**

Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder.

To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cool dry place.

Do not refrigerate.

American Praline Buttercream:

- 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter
- 1 cup confectioners sugar

- 1/2 recipe of praline paste

Cream butter and sugar together till fluffy and add praline paste, make sure to break up paste otherwise you will end up with chunks, and I mean chunks!

Add more sugar if needed. Set aside until ready to use. Do not refrigerate unless your using the icing the next day or later.

Apricot Glaze:

Good for one 9-inch cake

- 2/3 cup thick apricot preserves

- 1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants.

With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Sugar Syrup:

Makes enough one 9-inch cake

- 1 cup water

- 1/4 cup sugar

- 2 Tbsp. dark rum or flavoured liqueur (kaluha, cointreau, frangelico)

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake.

*Can be made in advance.

Ganache Glaze:

- 8 oz whipping cream

- 8-9 oz chocolate chips (bittersweet)

Heat cream on low for 10 minutes, do not boil.

Add chocolate off heat and leave to melt for 5 minutes then whisk till smooth.

Cool for 15 - 20 minutes.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Night Nosh

Ok so at the end of a long week the last thing some people feel like doing is putting together a nice dinner.

Well consider me the alternative. The only way for me to unwind after a week of work is to cook something I have a deep desire for. Something comforting and above all tasty!

We have recently started having our produce delivered by a small family run business that specializes in organic foods.

For the price of going to any big box store, I now can have organic locally grown food brought to my door.


So when I peeked in the fridge today to see what remain of my weekly delivery I was presently surprised by what I found:

-cremini mushrooms
- yellow squash
- basil

Well this called for something yummy, a risotto perhaps???

So here it is, not the most conventional dish for July but scrumptious none the less!

Creamy risotto with cremini mushrooms and yellow squash:

2 garlic cloves , minced

2 small onions , minced

8 cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly

1 yellow squash, halved and sliced thinly

1 - 1.5 c. arborio rice

6 cups chicken stock, don't worry about homemade... I don't

1/4 c. heavy cream

1/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated

1 - 2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

handful of basil

salt and pepper

Warm chicken stock over low heat till slightly simmering.

Place a large heavy pan on the stove over med- high heat.

Add olive oil and butter together, melt.

Once butter has melted add garlic and onions, saute till translucent about 3 - 5 minutes

Once they are softened add the rice and stir to coat all the rice with the oil/butter mixture.

**Don't let the rice brown***

Turn heat to medium

Add one ladle of the stock to the pan and stir to incorporate into rice. Keep stirring till all the liquid has been absorbed.

Repeat this process of one ladle at a time and the stirring for about 20 minutes.

Once rice still a bit al dente add the mushrooms and squash.

Add a ladle of stock and let the mixture sit for about 3 minutes before stirring.

Taste for salt and pepper

Test for doneness.

Risotto is one of those things that people either like al dente or a bit softer.

*** Always remeber it is supposed to be creamy though***

After about 25 minutes is good and it should be done.
Turn off heat.

In a small bowl mix together cream, cheese and basil.

Add this to the risotto and mix.

Serve with more basil for garnish or more cheese, whatever you like!

Serves about 4ish

Soo not used to this!

Ok so the funny thing about food blogging is that you can talk on just about anything!
Here's the deal. I always forget to that anything I make up for dinner or dessert out of my head or otherwise I can put on here. 3 weeks ago I made 2 keylime pies and didn't take a single picture. Then 2 Sunday's ago I made a Korean BBQ feast and a double layer ice cream pie...grrrr... and still NO pictures.
Someone remind me of what I'm doing here.
So I have decided to try and do 1 post a week on anything sweet or savoury and maybe eventually it will become habit and I won't be one of those people with a 1 a month post.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Protein Punch

So lately I have been looking at ways to change my eating habits. I LOVE food. Any kind for that matter. I love a big meal at the end of the day; however, my hips..not so much. So to level off my huge intake at the end of the day I decided to make breakfast a protein power packed extravaganza! Not leaving out of course a little bit of sweet ;)

Makes 6 servings or so

This recipe can be modified in infinite dimensions with any fruit you like, I used cherries because they were in season and they are yummy:

1/2 pint Blueberries
1 cup cherries (halved and pitted)
2 Tbsp maple syrup (NOT the fake stuff)

Throw it all into a pot on med/high for 5 - 7 minutes.
Taste for sweetness and adjust to your preference.
I also like to add a bit of lemon juice at the end for a hint of tang.

Now the protein part you ask?
Well once your concoction has cooled, spoon about 1/4 of cup of the fruit onto 1/2 cup of cottage cheese.

FYI - Cottage cheese (low fat) packs 15, yep 15 grams of protein!!!! all for a measly 100 calories - that's without fruit.

Blueberries are fab at the elimination of free radicals a.k.a "bad guys" running through our bodies. Take away the sugar aspect in the blueberries and your are dealing with an antioxident party for 1! So a serving of those hurts NOBODY! except the "bad guys".
They also pack 8.4 grams of fibre per 100 grams!
Not bad for the little fruit huh?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

My blog name

Ok, ok before people start getting all up in arms thinking I am a vanilla hater, I am not!!!!
I first posted my name as "Dessert First", but after a wonderfully nice blogger, Fanny brought to my attention that I may have potentially pinched someones name I decided I would pick a new one. One that is sort of a play one words.
My background is "not so vanilla". I'm half British and half Asian..."waysian" for those who don't know the term. No we don't find it derogatory we actually embrace it with open arms.
So this post is just to clarify that I am NOT, repeat NOT a vanilla hater. Bring on the creme brulee, panna cotta and ice cream!!!!