Sunday, August 31, 2014

Banana Machine Bread

Banana Machine Bread
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 large ripe mashed banana
1 1/2 Tablespoons oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons honey
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon yeast
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)

Place all ingredients in bread machine pan in order given, or according to manufacturer's instructions for whole wheat cycle. This makes one small (one pound) loaf, although size setting will depend on machine. 

You can even make banana bread in a bread machine. Though perhaps no easier, this is a yeast banana bread that has a sturdier texture and makes delicious peanut butter sandwiches. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Triple Apple Muffins

Apple juice, applesauce, and fresh apple combine to make these muffins that are chock-full of apple flavor and are quite moist. For more of an apple hit, dried apple could be used in place of dried apricot, but I like the added texture and burst of color of the apricot. The amount of added sweetener varies depending upon how sweet you like your muffins to be and what type of sweetener you use - brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc. 
Triple Apple Muffins
2  cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 Tablespoons oat bran
2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
4 teaspoons baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 - 1/2 cup sweetener of choice
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup apple juice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 eating apple, diced (peeled or not)
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease or line muffin cups with paper liners. 
In a large bowl, stir together the first seven dry ingredients, plus the sweetener unless it is liquid. Combine the liquid ingredients and add. Stir in the apple and apricot. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Soft and Spicy Ginger Cookies

These are not typical gingersnap cookies, but more like soft and moist ginger molasses cookies. Actually the recipe is very similar to my {Velvety Molasses Cookies}. 
Soft and Spicy Ginger Cookies
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
packed light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line cookie sheets.
In a large bowl, beat the oil, molasses, sugar, and egg until thickened. Stir baking soda into milk and add to. Stir in the salt and ginger. Gradually stir in the flour. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls or use a small ice cream scoop onto prepared cookie sheets. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until just set. Bottoms should be lightly browned. 
This makes about 30 cookies. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Awards 2014

Here are the results from the exhibition baking competition. I placed second overall, therefore received a nice basket full of goodies, including a cookbook, oven mitts, chocolate bar, tea, chocolate chips, ground ginger, baking pan, measuring cups, and more. I also received a ribbon for my award-winning chocolate cake yet again, for the best in entry in the cakes and squares section. The only thing I am a little disappointed in is that I did not receive a rank for a few of my items, because I did not realize the recipe had to be included as well, as in the gluten-free items. Oh well, these items are still on display and I still placed quite well despite this. 

Second Place Overall Exhibitor 
1. BISCUITS - Nonna's Tea Biscuits - 5th
2. COFFEE CAKE - Sour Cream Coffee Cake - 3rd
3. CINNAMON ROLLS - Cinnamon Rolls - 3rd
4. MUFFINS - Blueberry Cinnamon Streusel Muffins - 2nd
5. ZUCCHINI LOAF - Double Chocolate Zucchini Loaf - 1st
6. BROWNIES - 73.75% Cocoa Fudge Brownies - 2nd
7. NO BAKE-SQUARES - Crispy Peanut Mallow Squares - 2nd
8. BAKED SQUARES - Chocolate Goodies - 2nd
9. CHOCOLATE CAKE - Classic Chocolate Cake - 1st + ribbon for top entry in class
10. POUND CAKE - Chocolate Pound Cake - 1st
11. GERMAN APPLE CAKE - Kreibel Cake - 2nd
12. JAM ROLL - Chocolate Berry Roll - 5th
13. GINGERSNAP COOKIES - Spicy Ginger Cookies - 2nd
14. SUGAR COOKIES - Iced Sugar Cookies - 3rd
15. SOFT MOLASSES COOKIES - Velvety Molasses Cookies - 3rd
16. DARK FUDGE - Chocolate Frosting Fudge - 
17. DROP COOKIES - Lemon Crackle Cookies - 1st
18. CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES - Basic Chocolate Chip Cookies - 3rd
19. GLUTEN FREE COOKIES - No-Bake Chocolate Oat Cookies - 
20. GLUTEN FREE ITEM - Apricot Hazelnut Energy Bars - 
21. GINGERBREAD - Sticky Gingerbread - 3rd
22.BAKED ITEM USING BLUEBERRIES - Blueberry Cake with Pecan Coconut Stresuel - 1st
23. DARK FRUIT CAKE - Chocolate Fruit Cake - 2nd
24. HERITAGE ITEM - Pizzelle Cookies - 1st

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cooking Competition 2014

I am preparing baked items for the local exhibition baking contest again. This is my fourth year competing, and this year, I have chosen twenty-four different items to enter. That is the most I have ever done. I was very busy over a few days baking, but I also prepared some items in advance and froze them, since I knew I would never be able to bake that much in two days, not with my busy schedule anyway. Most of these recipes I have also featured on the blog before, but if not, they will be featured soon! When they are, I will add that link to the list here. If you would like to check out the past three years, follow these links:
2012Results 20122011Results 2011. 2013Results 2013.

This Year:
1. BISCUITS - Nonna's Tea Biscuits - http://bexysbakingblog.blogspot.ca/2012/05/nonnas-tea-biscuits.html
2. COFFEE CAKE - Sour Cream Coffee Cake - http://bexysbakingblog.blogspot.ca/2014/03/sour-cream-coffee-cake.html
3. CINNAMON ROLLS - Cinnamon Rolls - http://bexysbakingblog.blogspot.ca/2012/02/cinnamon-rolls.html
4. MUFFINS - Blueberry Cinnamon Streusel Muffins - http://bexysbakingblog.blogspot.ca/2013/04/moms-blueberry-cinnamon-muffins.html
5. ZUCCHINI LOAF - Double Chocolate Zucchini Loaf - http://bexysbakingblog.blogspot.ca/2012/08/chocolate-zucchini-loaf.html
6. BROWNIES - 73.75% Cocoa Fudge Brownies - http://bexysbakingblog.blogspot.ca/2014/05/7375-cocoa-fudge-brownies.html
7. NO BAKE-SQUARES - Crispy Peanut Mallow Squares - http://bexysbakingblog.blogspot.ca/2014/02/crispy-peanut-mallow-bars.html
8. BAKED SQUARES - Chocolate Goodies - to be featured
9. CHOCOLATE CAKE - Classic Chocolate Cake - Featured in many of my posts, as the base for my decorated celebration cakes, but I will never actually give away my award-winning recipe! 
10. POUND CAKE - Chocolate Pound Cake - http://bexysbakingblog.blogspot.ca/2014/06/chocolate-pound-cake.html
11. GERMAN APPLE CAKE - Kreibel Cake - http://bexysbakingblog.blogspot.ca/2014/08/kreibel-cake.html
12. JAM ROLL - Chocolate Berry Roll - to be featured
13. GINGERSNAP COOKIES - Spicy Ginger Cookies - to be featured
14. SUGAR COOKIES - Iced Sugar Cookies - http://bexysbakingblog.blogspot.ca/2013/08/sugar-cookie-cut-outs.html
15. SOFT MOLASSES COOKIES - Velvety Molasses Cookies - http://bexysbakingblog.blogspot.ca/2014/08/velvety-molasses-cookies.html
16. DARK FUDGE - Chocolate Frosting Fudge - to be featured
17. DROP COOKIES - Lemon Crackle Cookies - http://bexysbakingblog.blogspot.ca/2014/07/lemon-crackle-cookies.html
18. CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES - Basic Chocolate Chip Cookies - http://bexysbakingblog.blogspot.ca/2013/01/basic-chocolate-chip-cookies.html
19. GLUTEN FREE COOKIES - No-Bake Chocolate Oat Cookies - http://bexysbakingblog.blogspot.ca/2013/11/halloween-haystacks.html
20. GLUTEN FREE ITEM - Apricot Hazelnut Energy Bars - http://bexysbakingblog.blogspot.ca/2014/07/apricot-hazelnut-energy-bars.html
21. GINGERBREAD - Sticky Gingerbread - to be featured
22.BAKED ITEM USING BLUEBERRIES - Blueberry Cake with Pecan Coconut Stresuel - to be featured
23. DARK FRUIT CAKE - Chocolate Fruit Cake - http://bexysbakingblog.blogspot.ca/2012/11/moms-chocolate-fruitcake.html
24. HERITAGE ITEM - Pizzelle Cookies - to be featured

I will have the results tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pork Liver and Onions

When I think of liver, pork liver is not the first thing that comes to mind. Usually cow liver, especially calf liver, and chicken liver are more common. As you may now, liver is surprisingly one of the few meat products I really enjoy or look to have. Maybe it's because it is so simple, nutritious and economical. I was shopping for liver recently, and the only type of liver at the store at the time was pork liver. There were a few packages, all very cheap but good-looking. So I decided to try it, even though I was not familiar with pork liver. It can't be much different though. It turns out it is very much the same, but actually pork liver is often considered the most nutritious because it is highest in iron - a bonus for me. Here is a simple, no-fail recipe for liver and onions that works with any type of liver. The flour gives this a crisp, almost breaded-like coating that adds flavor and texture. Liver, regardless of the type, is often soaked in milk before cooking to rid it of any potential toxins.
Liver and Onions
liver, sliced into thin pieces
milk
butter
white onion, sliced into rings
salt and pepper
flour

Rinse liver pieces, put in a bowl and cover with milk. Allow to soak briefly.  Heat a large skillet with a little butter over medium heat. Sauté the onion until translucent, then remove and keep warm.
Season the flour with salt and pepper and dredge the liver slices in the flour. Sauté the liver pieces until browned and cooked but still tender, adding onions back in for the final few minutes. 
Amounts will vary, but need not be precise. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Double Chocolate Overnight Oatmeal

Double Chocolate Overnight Oatmeal
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-2 Tablespoons honey or maple syrup
2 Tablespoons raisins (optional, but adds sweetness)
2 Tablespoons chocolate chips or chunks ( I used 90% chocolate bar)
3/4 cup milk
Combine all ingredients together in a small bowl or jar, cover and refrigerate overnight. Enjoy in the morning, hot or cold. For more similar recipes, type "overnight oatmeal" into the search bar of this blog. 

Typically a lot of chocolate for breakfast isn't normally my thing, but it would just be like toast with Nutella, right? This bowl of delicious oatmeal is much healthier than a bowl of commercial sugary chocolate cereal, and if not your thing for breakfast, it would make a very nutritious dessert. Use your favorite type of chocolate - or a combo!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kreibel Cake

This German apple cake/torte/squares/bars recipe is absolutely delicious - no matter what you call it! It's surprisingly quick and easy too once you get the apples prepared. I used MacIntosh apples, but I am sure most apples would work fine. This recipe was originally given in metric units and masses, but by making it, I converted measurements to Imperial for ease.

Kreibel Cake
1/2 Tablespoon butter
6 small cooking apples, peeled and sliced
2/3 cup granulated (white) sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1 large egg, beaten
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease an 8x8 inch square pan.
In a large frying pan, cook the 1/2 Tablespoon butter and apples, and sprinkle with a third of the sugar and the cinnamon. Cook over low heat for about ten minutes, until slightly softened.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter until crumbly, then stir in the egg. Press 2/3 of this mixture into the prepared pan. Place the apples over top, leaving a small border around all edges. Crumble remaining mixture over top.
Bake for 40 minutes until topping is browned. Serve warm or cold. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Search for Kreibel Cake

Recently my great aunt told me about a recipe her mother used to make, which she called "kreibel cake". The spelling may be off, as may be her pronunciation, but she remembered it as being "cry-bull", as in rhyming with tribal. She believes the cake is of German origin, since her mother was German. She described to me what sounded like a German apple cake - a cake-like base with a layer of apples in the middle and a crumble topping, with no oats. It was called a cake and it was always cut into squares. My grandfather, grandmother, and my mother all remembered this cake, but because my great grandmother had always made it from memory, the recipe was never written down anywhere and never passed on. It's a shame, because they all made the cake sound so good. So using my German connections and googling skills, I set about to find the recipe, or a least something acceptably similar. 

The word kreibel and numerous variations on the spelling turned up only names of people, not desserts. Finally with much searching and help, it was concluded that kreibel is a very regional word used in Eastern Germany, basically meaning the same as streusel, which is a German word but is also commonly used in English. So kreibel cake seemed to be the equivalent of streuselkuchen, though stresuelkuchen does not necessarily contain apples, but is usually a yeast dough with a thick stresuel (butter, flour, and sugar crumble) topping. This is a bit different from traditional German apple cakes, which are more cake-like and don't always contain the streusel. I searched some recipes, trying to find the one that would be the closest, and found something else, krummeltorte, which is essentially a German apple crumble cake. I decided to try a recipe for this, and although it was absolutely delicious, everyone who had tasted the original kreibel cake agreed it wasn't the same. The kreibel cake, for example, used chopped apples, and this cake used sliced. So I will have to keep looking for the right recipe, in the meantime, I will post the recipe I used tomorrow because it is scrumptious! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Velvety Molasses Cookies

This makes one large batch of soft, moist, comforting classic molasses cookies - perfect anytime as a comforting treat with a glass of milk. Great for packing in lunches, or even good enough for breakfast. An old time recipe. 
Velvety Molasses Cookies
1 cup oil
1 cup molasses
1 cup granulated (white) sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease or line cookie sheets.
In a large bowl, beat the oil, molasses, sugar, and egg until thickened. Stir baking soda into milk and add to. Gradually stir in the salt and flour. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls or use a small ice cream scoop onto prepared cookie sheets. 
Bake for about ten minutes, until just set. Bottoms should be lightly browned. They may appear soft, but leave them on the cookie sheet for a few minutes and they will firm up. Do not overbake, or they will be dry and not soft and moist. 
This makes quite a large batch - at least five dozen (60) cookies.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Flourless French Chocolate Cake

Flourless French Chocolate Cake
4 squares (one ounce or 28 grams each) bittersweet chocolate
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup butter
5 Tablespoons granulated (white) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 large eggs, separated
dash salt
3 Tablespoons granulated (white) sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour 
(optional, but provides a little more stability, for a truly flourless or gluten free chocolate cake, omit or substitute with a gluten-free flour or ground nuts)

Preheat oven to 325F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray, line with parchment paper, and spray paper. 
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the chocolate, butter, and 5 Tablespoons sugar until smooth. Stir in the vanilla, and set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the salt and beat until soft peaks form. Add 3 Tablespoons sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
Beat the egg yolks, one at a time, into the chocolate mixture. Beat in the flour.
Beat 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the remaining egg whites. 
Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake for about 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before dislodging from the pan.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mom's French Chocolate Birthday Cake

This is the birthday cake I made for my mother this year. This time I wanted to do something a little different rather than the typical birthday celebration cake, since my mother isn't always a fan of heavy cakes and lots of icing or fondant. I still wanted to make a cake, just not a "decorated" cake, not that this cake contains no garnishes either. Since we all like chocolate, we settled on a flourless chocolate cake. I am not sure why the word "flourless" paired with chocolate cake sounds so appealing, but it does. Flourless chocolate cakes are known to be deep, dense, rich, and for a bonus, gluten-free if that's a concern for you (though it certainly isn't in this household). Many flourless chocolate cake recipe make use of ground nuts, most commonly almonds, to replace the flour in the recipe. However, French chocolate cakes are different. They rely on a lot of chocolate, usually melted chocolate and not cocoa, and several eggs to give them volume. The egg whites and yolks are always beaten separately, and the peaked egg whites provide the lift to the cake. Some recipes also call for a cup of whipping cream for extra richness and volume. This creates a soufflé-like cake texture - light and fluffy, but still rich and chocolaty. It is important not to overbake, or the cake will dry out and not be moist and rich. Garnishes should be kept fairly simple - a dusting of icing sugar, a dollop of whipped cream, some fresh fruit, toasted nuts, or a drizzle of chocolate sauce. And for the best quality and flavor, better quality chocolate should be used, since that is what composes the bulk of the cake. 

This "flourless" chocolate cake actually does contain a small amount of flour, but it is optional. I have included it just for stability purposes, but the cake will be fine without it. Alternately, an equal amount of a gluten-free flour or ground nut may be substituted as well.

To decorate my mother's birthday cake, I had to include piping to say Happy Birthday, as it is a cake for a birthday occasion after all. I simply used a small batch of my vanilla buttercream to pipe this, then I piped eight swirls around the outside of the cake. I took some fancy waffle cookies I had on hand, cut them into irregularly shaped pieces, and dipped the edges into some additional melted bittersweet chocolate, and stuck them in the swirls to garnish. I then added a few buttercream flowers and a buttercream border around the bottom. 
Happy Birthday Mom! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Banana Split Pancake

Banana Split Pancake
1 large banana
1/4 cup milk of choice
1-2 Tablespoons honey or syrup
1 peach, diced
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
yogurt of choice
nut butter or syrup of choice

Heat a small greased frying pan over medium heat.
Mash half of the banana. In a small bowl, mix together the mashed banana, milk, honey, and half of the peach. Stir in the dry ingredients. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Cook for a few minutes per side until golden.

Cut the pancake in half. Place the halves in a shallow bowl and place the remaining banana half in the middle. Place a scoop of yogurt (I used plain Greek) on either side of the banana. Scatter the remaining peach over top, and drizzle with a nut butter, honey, jam, syrup, or chocolate syrup.

This is a breakfast pancake recipe I came up with, that is slightly reminiscent of a banana split. Tailor the flavors to what you like. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Raspberry Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

What to do with more leftover raspberry filling? Make it into swirl brownies of course! Cream cheese swirl brownies are delicious, and the addition of a little fruit makes them even tastier. These are reminiscent of the strawberry version I made here {Strawberry Cheesecake Brownies}. The brownie base is a dark chocolate vegan brownie base, that uses all whole wheat flour, but you cannot even tell!
Raspberry Cheesecake Swirl Brownies
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons granulated (white) sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 cup milk of any kind
1/3 cup oil
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
1/3 cup miniature chocolate chips
1/2 recipe raspberry cream cheese filling (see yesterday's post)

Preheat oven to 330F. Line an 8x8 inch square pan.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, sugars, powder, and salt. 
In a separate small bowl, stir together the milk, oil, vanilla, and flax.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then stir in the chips.
Spread a thing layer (using about one third of the batter) into the bottom of the pan.
Dot spoonfuls of the filling over top (about one third of filling).
Repeat, alternating layers, placing spoonfuls of each on top. Then gently swirl the mixture with a butter knife.
Bake for 25 minutes, until the edges are just set, and center is no longer liquidy but only slightly jiggly. Cool completely, then refrigerate until cold. Squares will firm upon cooling. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lemon Raspberry Whoopie Pies

The lemon whoopie pies from yesterday's post were actually designed to be lemon raspberry whoopie pies. Lemon and raspberry is such a classic, refreshing flavor combination. However, not everyone enjoys raspberry, which is why I made some whoopie pies with just a plain cream cheese filling. However, these pies have the rasperry filling. Adding some fresh, local raspberries to the filling made it slightly more liquidy, but that's okay, because these berries were real gems - small, sweet, and ruby red in color. Although traditional whoopie pies only have the filling and no icing on top, I had a little extra and wanted to add to the presentation a bit, so I put a little on top of the pies too for extra flavor. 

Raspberry Filling
1/2 package (125 grams / 4 ounces) light cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons soft margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups icing (confectioners') sugar
1/2 tub (125 grams) fresh raspberries (approximately 1/4 cup), washed and gently patted dry

In a small bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Beat in the vanilla, then gradually beat in the sugar. Gently fold in the raspberries. Raspberries are delicate, but it is perfectly fine if some break apart and separate, as this will prevent large pieces of raspberry and will tint the entire filling a nice light pink.
The measurement for icing sugar is an estimate, because I rarely measure icing sugar myself. The filling should nor be runny, but just spreadable. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Lemon Whoopie Pies

I have only ever made, and eaten, whoopie pies once in my life. So I was very excited when I made them for the first time a little over a year ago (see the link here, which also explains more about whoopie pies,{Chocolate Whoopie Pies}). Recently I received a whoopie pie pan as a present. Whoopie pie pans are not necessary to make whoopie pies, as they can be scooped onto a cookie sheet like regular cookies, but they do make the process simpler and make the pies more uniformly-shaped. Actually, originally I had been looking for a muffin-top pan, but they prove to be a bit trickier to locate than whoopie pie pans. Since they are similar, I am hoping I can use my whoopie pie pan to make muffin tops as well - I will be sure to try it soon!
Lemon Whoopie Pies
juice of one lemon, plus enough milk to make 1/2 cup*
1/4 cup butter or hard margarine, softened
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
1 large egg
finely grated zest of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup all-purpose (plain) flour

*This will make buttermilk, or soured milk, though it will be more sour as usual due to the large addition of lemon juice. This will just add more lemon flavor. You should use approximately 1/4 each of lemon juice and milk.

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spray a twelve cavity whoopie pie pan.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. beat in the egg and lemon zest. Stir in the powder, soda, salt, and half of the flour. Stir in the milk mixture, then the remaining flour.

Spoon two tablespoons of dough into each cavity, and gently smooth. Bake for about ten minutes, until lightly golden on the bottom and pies spring back when lightly touched. Cool in the pan for eight minutes, then remove. Cool completely before filling.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Lentils with Tofu Triangles and Coconut Foam

I haven't really posted any more posts from my trip lately. I guess it's because I have been cooking and baking quite a bit lately. I thought I would share this post today, however, because it was one of the best culinary experiences I have ever had. 

I had this for lunch at a posh, well decorated, yet reasonably priced café, that seemed to focus on real, sustainable food, and had plenty of options to suit everyone's tastes, including some vegan options. As I am not a huge meat fan, I opted for one of the vegan options, as did two others from our group of five. Luckily, we were not disappointed! I cannot remember the exact name of this dish, but it is composed of a mixture of green lentils and bean sprouts, mixed with some finely chopped vegetables and seasoning. On top are some beautifully cut pieces of cooked tofu - how it was cooked I am not entirely sure - but it was firm and very flavorful. Probably the star of the dish though, was the coconut foam served on top, one of the easier tricks in molecular gastronomy. This created a nice tasty sauce for the dish, and brought another intriguing texture to the mix. I must say, I am not a huge fan of foamy textures, but I did enjoy this. The entire dish was presented beautifully, with a sprig of lavender, and it was the perfect size for lunch. A very enjoyable meal - i would definitely order this again. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

No Touch Multigrain Biscuits

These are just like the {No Touch Biscuits}, except this is a whole grain, healthier version I devised. The trick is to handle the dough as little as possible. Of course whole grain biscuits don't tend to be as fluffy and light, however, they are still tasty and hearty with whatever spread you like best. I made these more hearty biscuits, but if you prefer them sweet, add up to three Tablespoons of granulated sugar along with the dry ingredients. 

No Touch Multigrain Biscuits
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons each: ground flaxseed, oat bran, wheat germ, natural wheat bran
1 HEAPING Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup plain yogurt 
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Cut in the yogurt like you would butter until crumbly. Mix together the applesauce, milk, and water, and stir in to form a soft dough. Stir just until dough comes together, adding a little extra water or flour if needed. Dough should be slightly sticky. Gently pat dough into a shape about 1/2 inch thick, DO NOT KNEAD, then cut into biscuits of any shape. Place on prepared baking sheet, spacing apart for crisp sides or placing together for soft sides. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Blueberry Banana Oat Bars

This is a healthy, not too sweet bar that can be used for dessert, snack, or even breakfast. they hold together well, so could be used as an on-the-go granola bar as well. Some may prefer these with more sugar, but they don't need them. They are all whole grain, with no fat added, and the nice addition of fruit. The maple syrup is a better alternative to sugar, but you don't really taste the maple flavor. Honey could be used instead. 
Blueberry Banana Oat Bars
1 small overripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg or 1 flax egg
1/4 cup milk or choice
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon  baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup blueberries (I used frozen)

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease or line an 8x8 inch square pan.
In a medium bowl, beat the banana, applesauce, egg, milk, syrup, and vanilla. Stir in the baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and oats. Fold in the blueberries. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Coconut Chia Pudding

Coconut Chia Pudding
scant 1/2 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1-2 Tablespoons coconut butter
1-2 Tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups coconut or almond milk
Mix all together in a bowl, then refrigerate overnight until mixture is thickened and no longer liquidy. 

I suppose this is basically another "Overnight Oatmeal" recipe, without the oats. It is definitely a breakfast pudding that is chock-full of healthy fats and protein. Quickly whip it up the night before, and enjoy a breakfast ready the next morning. It will seem very liquidy at first, but thickens quickly overnight, though the texture is still more liquidy than oatmeal - more like a pudding. I must admit I was not a huge fan of the mix of flavors and textures in this - I much prefer oats to chia seed, and the coconut flavor wasn't the right pairing for me, but I'm posting this as I am sure others will enjoy it. This recipe actually makes a huge portion - I'd say two very hearty servings or four smaller servings, maybe with a biscuit or something else. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Honey Oatmeal Machine Bread

Honey Oatmeal Machine Bread
1 1/2 cups water
1 Tablespoon oil
2 Tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
scant 1/4 cup skim milk powder
1/4 cup oats
2 Tablespoons wheat germ
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons yeast
pinch ground ginger (optional) 
Place all ingredients in bread machine pan in order given, or according to manufacturer's instructions for whole wheat cycle. This makes one small (one pound) loaf, although size setting will depend on machine. 

When I made this the flavor was good, but the dough was a little too liquidy, more like a batter bread. I tried to save it with more flour, and the flavor was good, the rise just wasn't as great. Here is the revised recipe, which should work fine, but keep an eye on it during the mixing cycle. If it's still too liquidy, add a little extra flour. This is a hearty, tasty bread.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Homemade Noodles With Tomato Sauce and Caramelized Vegetables

These are the homemade noodles I made from yesterday. I guess if you were to put a name to them, they are closest to fettucini noodles, though they definitely are not perfectly consistent. I did all the work by hand, no pasta maker, and this was my first time, so overall I thought they turned out pretty well. I decided to serve them with simple toppings, so I paired the pasta with a simple tomato sauce, then caramelized some fresh thinly sliced mushrooms and onion rings in a little butter and olive oil. A turn of cracked black pepper and a shaving of Parmesan cheese was all that was needed to round out this dish. Serve as a light lunch, or make it a complete meal with a light salad, garlic bread, and perhaps a bean salad or grilled meat for some protein. 

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Homemade Pasta

Here is a recipe for a quick, simple homemade pasta dough that can be made into any shape. These are not egg noodles but the flavor does benefit from the addition of some egg. The flavor is good, as long as you remember to salt the cooking water. Otherwise, like most pastas, it will be bland, even with sauce.

Homemade Pasta
2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
2 large eggs
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2-4 Tablespoons water

Place the flour in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center. In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, and 2 Tablespoons water. Add to well slowly while stirring. If dough is too dry, dribble in more water, if too sticky, sprinkle on more flour. Stir until dough comes together, then knead into a ball until smooth.

Roll dough out as thinly as possible. Then cut into desired pasta shapes. This dough works well for filled pastas, wonton or eggroll wrappers, or long pastas. For noodles, it is most efficient to roll the dough like a jellyroll, slice, then unroll to form noodles, although I found this didn't work well for me. I ended up just slicing long fettucini noodles myself. 

Cook in boiling salted water to desired tenderness. Time will depend upon thickness of noodles, though it will be shorter than dry pasta. 

Friday, August 08, 2014

Chocolate Jam Sandwich Cookies

Here is the recipe from yesterday's cookies. It is incredibly quick and easy, and the dough need not be chilled before rolling (unless your kitchen is really hot), so there is no advance prep work required!

Linzer Cookie Dough
1/2 cup butter or hard margarine, softened
2 Tablespoons granulated (white) sugar
2 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup golden corn syrup
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
jam or jelly of your choice 
icing sugar or chocolate to decorate

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line a cookie sheet. 
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. beat in syrup, egg, and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Roll dough out about 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface and cut with a floured cutter into desired shapes. If you are doing different shapes, ensure there is a top and bottom for each cookie, and cut a small hole somewhere in the top shape for the jam to show through.
Place the bottom cookies, a few centimeters apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Spread with the jam of your choice (I used strawberry), using only about a 1/2 teaspoon for each cookie and being sure not to spread right to the edges of the cookies. Place the top cookie on top. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned (check the bottoms). Transfer cookies to cool. 
Alternatively, cookies could be sandwiched together with jam after baking, however this can be messier and I think they stay together better if the jam is placed on the raw dough and sandwiched together. I also prefer the jam to be baked. 
Once cookies are cooled or nearly cooled, they can be decorated with a dusting of icing sugar, or drizzled with melted chocolate. I melted a handful of semisweet chocolate chips and used a fork to drizzle the chocolate horizontally over the cookies. 

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Eiffel Tower Cookies

I suppose you could consider this somewhat of another trip post, although I did make these cookies here at home. While I was away, I went into a beautiful kitchenware store (actually one of many) that sold a vast selection of unique cookie cutters. Among them was the Cologne Cathedral and one of my favorite famous landmarks, the Eiffel Tower. It's funny because this store actually was not in France at all, but in Germany. However, I assure you I did soon after visit the actual site of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. In Paris, you can buy just about anything with the Eiffel Tower on it, or shaped as such - from plates to towels, to snowglobes, clothing, dry pasta, bedding - you name it! The Eiffel tower is surely a beautiful and iconic landmark. Therefore, Eiffel Tower merchandise is available in many places outside of Paris as well. Come to think of it, upon my return home I've begun to notice while shopping here how many Eiffel tower things there are to purchase here as well. An Eiffel Tower shirt definitely does not signify you have been to Paris. I can now say I have, but I must admit, I had Eiffel Tower luggage before my trip.

Getting back to the cookies, this cookie cutter makes a lovely decoration. It stands up by itself or could also be hung from a string and displayed. such as on a Christmas tree. Although it's main purpose is to cut cookies, I wasn't sure the cookies would stay together with the intricate shape, but just had to try. Also on my list of things to try were linzer cookies, which are basically jam-filled butter sandwich cookies in shapes such that the jam appears through a small hole in the cookies. I've had these cookies before but never made them myself. 

So I whipped up a batch of dough and tried the cutter. At first the cookies weren't working, which is why you see one Eiffel Tower placed on top of a circle shape, but I think I had rolled the dough too thin. Next, the top half and the bottom half of the tower would not stay together in all the cookies, so I made these the top cookies in order to expose some of the jam. Finally I got the hang of it, by dipping the cookies cutter in flour between each cut, and cutting out the small diamond in the middle for the jam to show through. So the cutter does work well, though I'm not convinced the Cologne Cathedral cutter would have fared as well. 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Heart-Shaped Anniversary Cake

Here is a more comprehensive explanation of the sixtieth anniversary cake I featured yesterday. 
First of all I made one batch my signature marble cake recipe and baked it in my heart-shaped cake pan. The marble cake recipe I used is {Basic Marble Cake}. This marble cake doesn't look swirled on top, but becomes sort of layered inside as it bakes, which is because it is a thinner cake batter, leading to a moister cake. I also use a slightly different technique when marbelling my cakes. Instead of putting spoonfuls of alternating batters in, I pour in all the white batter, then pour the chocolate batter over top in streaks. This is similar in technique to making zebra cake (see {Zebra Cake}). If you do not own a heart-shaped cake pan, it isn't necessary, but one shape that can easily be made using standard cake pans. Just use an 8 or 9 inch round and square pan, place the square as a diamond, cut the round in half, and place the straight end of each half along adjacent sides of the diamond.
Once the cake was cooled, I placed it on a platter, placed strips of waxed paper around the edges of the cake to keep the platter clean, and covered the cake in ganache. It took exactly one recipe of {Cocoa Ganache Glaze} for the perfect thickness of ganache. I briefly refrigerated the cake to set the ganache, then carefully peeled away the waxed paper strips. The excess ganache that dripped onto the waxed paper can be easily scraped off with a butter knife and reused at another time reheated as ganache, or for another purpose (dipping, frosting, fondue, spread, truffles, etc.)
Once the ganache was set and my buttercream was made, I moved on to decorating. I first did the top border using a closed star tip, then the bottom border using an open star tip, the lettering using a plain small open round tip, the roses using a rose petal tip and a flower nail, and the leaves using a leaf tip. It took five decorating tips, but not a lot of time, and only one color of icing to complete this cake! 

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

60th Anniversary Cake

This is the sixtieth wedding anniversary cake I made recently. It is my new signature cake recipe - marble. I baked it in my heart-shaped pan, since anniversaries are all about love after all. Then I covered the cake in one of my favorite frosting options - glossy chocolate ganache. Then I whipped up a small batch of my signature vanilla buttercream icing for the borders, piping, and decorations. On the bottom I did a simple shell border, and around the top I did an alternating shell border. I really like this top border, it gives an almost lace-like appearance, and looks neat and old-fashioned. I then piped "Happy 60th Anniversary" in cursive writing in the middle (free-hand!) and added three buttercream roses at the bottom and a few leaves in between. 

I decided to keep this cake simple and classic - old-school like many wedding cakes were sixty years ago. I chose the simple color scheme of chocolate and white to keep it clean-looking and simple. Also, it is difficult to match the traditional sixtieth anniversary color - diamond. I wanted to stick with the old-fashioned buttercream and not too much piping, instead of the modern fondant and sugar flower covered cakes, to make it appear more like the wedding cake, not that I was trying to replicate that either. I like the simplicity of this cake, and I am quite happy with the piping as well. 
Sixty years is a long time, and this cake is truly deserved. 

Monday, August 04, 2014

Chocolate Cheerio Crisp

Chocolate Cheerio Crisp
2 Tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons almond butter
1 Tablespoon butter or hard margarine
pinch salt

3/4 cup Cheerios cereal or honey nut Cheerios
1/3 cup chopped dried apricot
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup whole natural almonds

Line a small pan with parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan, melt the first five ingredients over medium heat, simmer for one minute, stirring constantly. 
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together the next four ingredients.
Pour the chocolate mixture over the dry ingredients and quickly stir until coated. Press mixture into prepared pan and refrigerate until hardened. 
Makes a healthy, nice light snack with a chocolaty hit. Great for on-the-go bars, quick dessert, special breakfast, or garnish. It can be broken into smaller pieces (like granola) to use as cereal, in parfaits, as crusts, and more. Will keep for at least one week in the refrigerator. 

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Tartziki

We recently had halibut for supper. I wanted to make a quick sauce to accompany it, but I couldn't decide what kind. I finally narrowed it down to two - but was torn between making a tartar sauce, a classic choice for fish, or tzatziki, not typical for fish but delicious. I have had both of these sauces before, but never made them myself. I came up with a new creation - tartziki - a cross between tartar sauce and tzatziki.
Tartziki
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon finely chopped cucumber
1 Tablespoon finely chopped white onion
1/4 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1/2 Tablespoon sweet green relish
pinch sugar
pinch salt
dash of white or apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Fold all ingredients together in a small bowl. This makes just enough for two to four servings of fish, so scale recipe up accordingly. Any leftovers make a great dip for veggies

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Belgian Waffles

Recently we got a new waffle maker. Actually it's not new, but a gently used one given to us by a friend. Our waffles maker cooks two rectangular waffles simultaneously. This waffle maker cooks either one large round waffle, or four small triangular waffles simultaneously, depending on how you look at it. With this new waffle maker, my father (the waffle maker in this family) decided to try making Belgian waffles. The difference between Belgian waffles and regular waffles, are that Belgian waffles tend to be larger, thicker, lighter, and with larger squares in the grid pattern. Compared to our regular waffles, this is definitely true, so this was the perfect waffle maker for the job. Most of the differences lie within the waffle maker itself, therefore the recipe isn't much different. However, Belgian waffle recipes often call for slightly more sugar, perhaps the addition of vanilla extract, and often require beating the egg whites and yolks separately, which is what makes the batter lighter. 

I did not notice a huge different, but if I had to choose, I think I prefer these waffles. I like the thicker, almost cake-like texture compared to the thin and crispy texture. X marks the spot on these waffles! 

Friday, August 01, 2014

Les Escargots

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in France - eat snails. It's mandatory. Well, not actually, but personally I think when traveling to places, you have to try as many of the local specialties as possible. And snails are certainly a specialty of France - where else do people eat snails? I went to France with the goal of not leaving without having eaten snails. 

We found a French bistro that served snails as an appetizer, so I went for those. I was presented with a dozen beautiful snails flavored in a garlic herb butter. I didn't know there existed special snail plates, with twelve small round indents to hold the shells, along with a special pair of snail tongs to grasp the snail shell while pulling out the snail flesh with a special, tiny snail fork. No one ever told me snails were so difficult to eat. They give you special tools and everything, yet the snails are so slippery from the garlic butter, it is difficult to hold them. I ended up sort of getting the hang of it, but also using my hands. Good thing the restaurant wasn't too fancy. 

I actually quite enjoyed the snails. I mean, just about anything tastes good when slathered in garlic and butter, right? Snails are a little chewy, but the texture isn't unpleasant and they are high in protein. Snails are often accompanied by pieces of fresh baguette to soak up the extra garlic butter that leaks out of them. Snails may not sound appealing, which is why menus list them as "escargots" but they are quite tasty and I would eat them again. 
See? I did finish them. Well, all but one, which I shared. I'm surprised no one else at the table wanted to try one!