Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye 2007

Well, 2007 was a big year for me. I graduated, got a job and got a new camera. I also did a lot of cooking and baking in my small kitchen. Here are a few things that really stood out.

Paul gave me Dorrie Greenspan's "Baking: From My Home to Yours." This has been my most used cookbook this year.

My Summer of Ice-Cream, inspired by my ice-cream mentor Yannick.

I rediscovered rice, after I friend came by to teach me how to cook it. (While I technically learned to cook rice in the last days of last year, my rice cooking really took of in 2007).

And just this week I discoved both David Lebovitz's delicious brownies from "The Perfect Scoop" and the fun of the reverse lens macro.
All the best for 2008.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Mascarpone Ice-Cream

This ice-cream arose from a happy accident: I had some mascarpone that needed to be used up and I also was planning to bake a cake for Paul's birthday. The cake I baked was Grandmother's Very Creamy Chocolate Cake. (It was very good, very dense, very rich and most importantly, very easy.) However, the recipe suggested that it needed a creamy accompaniment....and I had this mascarpone to use up. I think you can see the obvious solution.

There is a mascarpone ice-cream recipe in The Perfect Scoop. But it's a custard based recipe, which can be a lot of work. Fresh from the success of last week's cinnamon molasses ice-cream I was ready to try the no custard technique again (i.e. the lazy way).

What really makes this recipe is the excellent vanilla paste that my brother gave me for my birthday. The flavour of this ice-cream is very similar to the filling in tiramisu, and I think it is one of my new favourites.

Mascarpone Ice-Cream

1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1 cup whipping cream
2 tsp vanilla

1. Dissolve sugar in milk.
2. Whisk in mascarpone, whipping cream and vanilla.
3. Freeze in your ice-cream maker according to directions.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Fishies for Paul

This year Paul's birthday falls on a Saturday. We went out with all his friends on his actual birthday, so I made him a birthday dinner the night before.

I wanted to keep things simple, because I wouldn't have a lot of time when I came home to cook. So I decided on a menu of rice, green beans and poached fish. I modified a poached fish recipe I tried earlier in the year to make this one. This was fast and kind of fancy tasting - sadly, it may have been a little lacking in the presentation category.

Poached Haddock

4 pieces haddock
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped into one 1 inch pieces, and squashed a bit
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 glass white wine
unsalted butter about a tablespoon

1. Add 1/2 tsp butter to a frying pan with a lid and soften the onions. Add the white wine and lemongrass and bring to a boil. (I reduced the liquid and this point quite a lot and added some water back in, but you could skip this.)
2. Add the fish and cover the pan with the lid. The fish probably won't be fully covered, I flipped mine over after about 3 mins.
3. Cook about 3 mins longer, until opaque all the way through.
4. Remove the fish from the pan to your serving dish and cover them with tin foil. Meanwhile, increase the heat under the pan and reduce the wine mixture by about 1/2. Add about a 1 tsp of butter, and heat until it starts bubbling again.
5. Remove bits of lemongrass from the sauce and serve.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cinnamon Molesses Ice-Cream

Paul loves cinnamon ice-cream. So when our friend Yannick made some last weekend when I was over cooking with him and I saw how simple his recipe was I decided to try it myself.

The original recipe that Yannick made called for brown sugar - but my brown sugar was a little hard and sometimes I find it is a little tricky to get all the lumps out.

I took this recipe over to my parents house and we had it with pumpkin and apple pies. It worked well with both kinds of pie and is also nice on its own.

Cinnamon Molasses Ice-Cream
1 cup milk
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tbsp molasses
2 cups whipping cream
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

1. Dissolve sugar and molasses in the milk.
2. Add cinnamon, vanilla and whipping cream and whisk - but don't whisk too much or you will incorporate a lot of air.
3. Freeze in your ice-cream maker.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

St. Lawerence Market

The best part about going to the St. Lawerence Market is coming home and eating a huge sticky bun, and reading the newspaper.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A soup for Halloween

I planned on making this soup yesterday. I got started: I cooked the squash and fried the onions. But I got a headache and I lost my cooking mojo.

However, it worked out really well. Since everything was ready in the fridge I just mixed them in the soup pot together and let them simmer for 30 mins. Easy-peasy. And the colour is perfect for Halloween.

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
(modified from this recipe)

1 butternut squash
2 cups chicken stock
1 onion, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy cream (you can replace with milk if you are being more healthy)
1/2 cup milk
vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Oil a baking sheet and put the squash cut side down. Cook for 30-40 mins until tender and let cool. (This can be done the night before.)
2. Melt butter in a large pot and add onions. Cook to translucent.
3. Add stock to onions. Scoop squash out of the skin and add to onions and stock. Simmer for 30-40 mins.
4. Puree and add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Add milk and cream, return to pot and bring to a simmer.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Hedgehog Potatoes

This is from "Super Natural Cooking", but you can read the recipe here.

These were really fun.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Seafood Stew

Environment Canada said it was going to be cool today - and it was. I wanted to make something for dinner that would be toasty, but not full on fall food. I'm not ready to start eating squash yet.

Then I remembered I froze the leftover broth from the mussels I made earlier in the summer. So I decided to use in a fish stew.

I wanted to incorporate the idea from the minimalist using the shrimp shells to make a stock, not just for the flavour, but because Paul always complains when I leave the shells on. And I had just seen Ina make a fish stew on tv, and I wanted to use some of her ideas. But it turns out the shrimp shell stock was in her recipe too.

Ina used fennel in her recipe, but I am a liquorice hater, so I decided to leave that out. Since it's the end of summer, so I knew the market would be full of fresh tomatoes, so I decided to use fresh tomatoes instead of canned, and add a little tomato paste. Paul's mother found a really cute Polish tomato paste that came in a jar. I wish all tomato paste was packaged like this.

I served this with a nifty little baguette I got called a ficelle. It had a nice sour taste. I really liked this recipe. It seemed kind of fancy, but came together very fast. However, I had a bit of sticker shock on the price of fresh seafood. Next time, I might be temped to try using frozen. In any event, this was probably the most expensive meal I cooked all year, but it was worth it.

Fast Seafood Stew
(serves two)
1/2 lb shrimp, the kind with shells
1/2 lb Halibut, in 1 inch chunks
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp tomato paste

1. Peel shrimp and place shells in a large pot. Cover with water and add bay leaf, bring to a simmer. (Simmer until all the other vegetables have been cut up.) Strain stock from shells and reserve.
2. Fry onion in olive oil over medium heat. When they appear soften, maybe 5 mins, add garlic and cook on medium heat for another 2-3 mins. Add 1 cup stock, tomato paste and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer.
3. Add tomato, shrimp and halibut. Cook covered for about 7 mins, or until the shrimp are almost opaque. Removed from heat and let sit for 5 mins.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Some new things

A few new additions to my kitchen
I can't wait to try these things out.

And a cookie that Paul baked. Totally delicious.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Family Golf

Every year my mother's family has a family golf tournament. It's just one of those wacky things my family does. While I am not that into golfing, the tournament does have two components I really enjoy: prizes and potluck.
And you can win a prize even if you don't golf. It's awesome. This year I got a "Coors Light Cold Case", and while it claims that it can hold 18 so called "silver bullets", I was more interested in the fact that it also big enough to hold a 9x13 pan.

My Uncle made this peach pie and it was totally awesome. I am hoping he will pass on the recipe.

This year the corn salad has been my go to potluck recipe, so I wanted to repost it in pot luck size. I've also changed it up a little, switching red onion for green onion (I like chopping red onion more), and adding pine nuts.

Super Jumbo Corn Salad
(for taking to potlucks)
1 kg bag peaches and cream frozen corn
2 red peppers
1 green pepper
1/2 red onion
handful of basil or parsley
1/4 toasted pine nuts

24 hours before:
Take corn out of freezer and put it in fridge.

The afternoon or night before:
1. Chop red onion, and peppers. I usually try and make corn kernel sized pieces.
2. Make the salad dressing.

Before you serve:
Chop basil. Drain corn. Combine everything and toss with dressing.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Corn Starch Ice-Cream

I hope you don't think I forgot about the summer of ice-cream. A few weeks ago the Times published an article about making corn starch ice-cream. As soon as it was post my ice-cream correspondent, Mr. Yummy-Baguette himself, Yannick, and I began a feverish correspondence on the subject.

Unfortunately, Yannick, is currently on the other side of the world, and thus, far from his ice-cream maker. So the burden of trying out this recipe has fallen to me.

I made this batch for my parents. You may recall that my parents are the owners of the ice-cream maker currently in my possession. I feel it is in my best interest to periodically provide them with home made ice-cream in the hopes that they let me keep the ice-cream maker. Sadly, my father tactfully said that he had enjoyed other ice-creams I had made more. I think it might be in my best interest to make up another batch for them pronto.

We ate this ice-cream with peaches, and the flavour was good. But texture of the ice-cream on it's on was off: a bit chewy and gritty.

Buttermilk Ice-Cream
adapted from the Minimalist, Mark Bittman

2 cups buttermilk
1.5 cups whipping cream
4 tbsp corn starch
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla

1. Heat buttermilk, 1 cup cream, sugar and salt until steaming, stirring occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, mix remaining 1/2 cup cream and corn starch until smooth and lump free.
3. Bring to a slight boil, and cook about another 5 mins until thick. (You don't have to be too precise here, because, well, it's going to be frozen.)
4. Freeze according to your ice-cream maker's directions.

Monday, August 20, 2007


I am very wary about food poisoning. So naturally, I am wary about eating mussels. However, I ate them at my best friend Evangeline's early in the summer and they were quite frankly delicious and food poisoning free. (And according to her very healthy and chock full of everything I am deficient in. For those keeping tabs at home, I am deficient in seafood and deliciousness and maybe iron.)

Plus, it seemed pretty easy. So, I decided to make them for myself. After much consultation of the internet (thanks again Serious Eaters!), the fish man, and Evangeline herself, I felt ready to cook mussels for myself.

Here is a summary of the things I learned.
1. ~2 lbs (or 1kg) of mussels makes a main course for two people.
2. If they are open before you cook them, even after you tap their shell, that's bad. These ones should be tossed.
3. If they don't open after you cook them, than that's' also bad. These ones should be tossed too.

The tomato I used was extra juicy and I ended up with too much cooking liquid - and not enough cooking liquid chunks, much to Paul's chagrin. But it was still delicious. Seriously delicious.

Overall it was happy times.
(Notice I have some awesome pots. The one on the left was my mom's.)

So here's what you do
1. Fry up some onion and garlic.
2. Add some chopped tomato (maybe, seed the tomato if it is juicy)
3. Add a bay leaf and some white wine, but not too much wine, or the broth will not be chunky the way Paul likes it. Wait until everything is boiling.
4. Add the mussels, cover them and wait until they open.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Honey Peach Ice-Cream

So what did I do with all my peaches? As only fitting for my summer of ice-cream, I churned them up. (For those of you keeping score at home, last summer was the summer of jam.)

I wanted to make the honey peach ice-cream from Baking: From My Home to Yours, but it required a custard and I was feeling a little lazy. I don't know if I mentioned this yet but I bought David Lebowtiz's The Perfect Scoop - looks like it might be the autumn of ice-cream too. Happily The Perfect Scoop has a recipe for peach ice-cream. So all I had to do was put the recipes together.

The interesting thing about eating this ice-cream is that the honey taste is initially very strong, but as your tongue gets cold it becomes almost imperceptible.

Honey-Peach Ice-Cream

mash up of David Lebowtiz's Peach Ice-Cream and Dorrie Greenspan's Honey Peach Ice-Cream

4 large peaches
1/4 honey
2 tbsp water (I used more, but for juicy peaches I think this is a better amount.)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup whipping cream

1. Peel peaches and cut into large chunks. (I blanche them to make is easier to peel.)
2. Add peaches, honey and water into a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Cook about 10 mins until the peaches are squishy when poked with a fork.
3. Add sugar to peach mixture and stir until dissolved. Let mixture cool a bit.
4. Blend peach mixture with sour cream and whipping cream briefly so some chunks remain.
5. Freeze in your ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Maple Walnut Cake

Hola internet amigos!

I have a lot of things to tell you about.

First, something I wait for all year.
I love love love peaches. And I have some big plans for these ones...but I will tell you about that another day.

Next, it's Dorrie time. I made these chocolate macaroons to use up the egg whites from my coffee ice-cream. I used a Nigella tip, and froze the eggs whites until I was ready to use them. It seemed to work okay.
I don't think macaroons will ever be my favourite, but these were pretty nice.
(They are very fragile, so you have to arrange them carefully.)

And finally, the main event, my Dooda's birthday cake.
My Dooda's favourite ice-cream is maple walnut, so I used that as the inspiration for this cake. The cake is nutmeg walnut; the icing maple butter cream; and it is all topped off with candied maple walnuts. If you want to make a super jumbo 9x13 cake, the recipe needs to be tripled. I'm not going to lie, it's really weird to make a cake using 9 eggs.

The cake was very popular. The texture of the icing was not perfect, but the taste was so good that I will probably play around with it in the future to see if I can get the texture the way I like it.

Walnut Nutmeg Yogurt Cake
adapted from Dorrie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours

1 cup flour
1/2 cup finely ground walnuts
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp baking power
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 plain yogurt
3 large eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 canola oil

1. Preheat the oven to 350F, and oil a 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet.
2. Mix flour, walnuts, nutmeg, baking powder and salt.
3. In a seperate bowl mix sugar, yogurt, eggs and vanilla.
4. Add dry ingredients to wet, then fold in the oil.
5. Pour into prepared pan and bake 50-55 mins until a skewer comes out dry.

If you triple the recipe to make a big cake like I did, it will take about 60mins to bake.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Trying out the summer express

Mark Bitman posted a list of 101 simple summer meals last week. Tonight, I tried out number 4.

Honestly, I wasn't expecting a lot from "Open a can of white beans and combine with olive oil, salt, small or chopped shrimp, minced garlic and thyme leaves in a pan. Cook, stirring, until the shrimp are done; garnish with more olive oil." I didn't have fresh thyme, I only had frozen cooked shrimp - but I did have a nice can of cannellini beans.

I played with the instructions a little. I started by softening 1/2 a red onion is about 2 tbsps butter, then added 3 cloves chopped garlic and about a tsp dried thyme. Once everything started smelling delicious I added the beans, shrimps (thawed) and a little olive oil. When it was almost warmed through I added a little more thyme. Seriously delicious. I ended up with leftovers and it was good even the next day. I think the beans soaked up some of the thyme flavour. This might become a summer staple.

And to finish, coffee ice-cream. I love Hagen Dazs coffee ice-cream, but this is better - and happily decaf. It's almost too rich.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I had some spinach, whipping cream and pine nuts. This is what I threw together. It turned out tasty, and the sauce came together in the time it took to cook the noodles.

Spinach Pine Nut Pasta Sauce
2 tbsp butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package (300g) chopped frozen spinach, thawed
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1/4 toasted pine nuts

1. Heat the butter over medium high heat. When melted, add shallots and cook until softened. Add garlic and cook 1 min more.
2. Add spinach and Worcestershire sauce. Cook until warmed through, stiring occasionally.
3. Add cream and Parmesan. Cook another 2-5 mins until everything is combined - or your noodles are ready.
4. Serve over pasta, sprinkle the pine nuts on top.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I know I've only been posting about ice-cream and cake.....but my regular meals have been pretty dull recently. And I really really like eating cake and ice-cream.

This weekend's project (aside from reading Harry Potter) was this cake from Baking: From My Home to Yours.
It was a make-up for my brother's birthday because I didn't have time to bake him a cake earlier in the month. He is a big fan of chocolate and peanuts.

As a bonus here is a picture of the lasagna that my Mom made for Sunday dinner. It was delicious, but ever so slightly spicy.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Strawberry Sour Cream Ice-Cream

As I child I, was absolutely disgusted that my parents would put sour cream on top of strawberries. Disgusted. And yet, tastes change and now I think it is an awesome combination.

When I was looking through what I have started referring to as "the big baking book", Baking, From My Home to Yours, I saw a recipe for blueberry sour cream ice-cream. Now, I am not a huge blueberry fan. Fresh, I love them. Cooked or puree, not my cup of tea. But....I am sure you can see where I am going here....I thought to myself this would be awesome with strawberries.

My Dad wasn't sure if there would be any good Ontario strawberries at the market this week - but happily there still were and even more happily he sprung for a flat and gave me two pints.

The flavour of this ice-cream is very fresh, and I think the tang from the sour cream and a lemon juice is a nice contrast to the sweetness. However, I found this ice-cream a little more icy and less creamy than some of the others I made. I think if I made it again I will use 35% cream.

Strawberry Sour Cream Ice-Cream

500g hulled strawberries, about 4 cups
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 cup sour cream
1/2 heavy cream (I used 18%)
2/3 - 1 cup sugar

1. Add all ingredients, except sugar, to the blender and puree. Add about 1/3 a cup cup of the sugar and blend. Taste the mixture. Depending on the sweetness of the strawberries, you may need to add another 1/3-2/3 cups of sugar.
2. Freeze in your ice-cream maker according to directions.

If you have left over strawberries, you can always have french toast with strawberries.

On one last note, this weekend it was the birthday of my friend Molly who likes lemons and has the same shoe size as me. I made the lemon yogurt cake for her, doubling the recipe and baking it in a bundt pan. The baking time was pretty much the same.
Photo taken by Paul.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

But there was no pie....

Last week, my Dooda - my grandfather - went to a strawberry social. When my mom asked him how it was afterwards she found out that, "It was good....but there was no pie." He says this every year after the strawberry social. And every year, the next time my Dooda comes over for diner, my mother bakes him pies. Happily, as I am a child in good standing with my parents, I was invited over for this pie extravaganza.

My mother made lemon meringue.

As well as a strawberry pie.
This pie was very delicious. My mother made a glaze with cooked strawberries, so the pie had the taste of both cooked and fresh strawberries. Surprisingly, the lemon-strawberry combination was also really delicious.

Saturday, June 30, 2007


I love baking powder biscuits. At home, it was always a big treat to have them. Every time, we would ask my mom to tell us about the time that my Baba - her mother - made the biscuits with baking soda and served them with rhubarb sauce. If you have ever mixed baking soda with an acid you know how it foams rather vigorously....but hearing about the acid rhubarb reacting with the biscuits is a story that we never got tired of.

I've tired making biscuits a few times since I moved out, using a recipe from The Joy. But it just wasn't the same. However, after seeing some southern lady make biscuits on the food channel I decided to give biscuits another try. The television recipe did not get such a great review on the internet, so I went hunting in my book shelf for a promising recipe. As soon as I found that the Dorrie book, Baking: From my home to yours, had a biscuit recipe I decided to try it.

Paul's verdict: They are, like, awesome. The biscuits are a meal on their own.
I think this picture, taken with Paul's camera, natch, illustrates the point nicely. They look like a biscuit commercial. I fully expected the Pillsbury dough boy to appear in my kitchen to praise the perfection of these biscuits after I made them.

I baked off half the biscuits to eat with dinner. They were excellent both plain and as a jam vector.
Here, one last bite is pictured with some very excellent jam that my doting parents brought me from France.

The recipe was quite easy and did not require any special equipment. Unlike the biscuits my mom makes, there is a little sugar in the dough. Not enough to make them sweet, but I think it helped create a truly delicious brown biscuit bottom.

I put the other half on a baking tray in the fridge. I baked these off for breakfast, and they were still delicious. Obviously, I ate them with more jam.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Baking: From my home to yours

I had heard a lot about Baking: From my home to yours, so my expectations for this book we very high.

Overall I am delighted with it. I want to make everything. And there 12! 12! recipes for brownies. So far, I have made three things, and it has gone pretty well.

For Sunday dessert at my parents I made the berry tart. It was also just recently written up on Smitten Kitchen. Honestly, making the tart was a bit of a disaster. I made the pastry cream two days ahead of time and it curdled. Talking to my dessert guru Yannick, he declared such it "impossible" for pastry cream to curdle. He just may have been right - I later discover in the very helpful glossary section that if you leave the sugar sitting on top of the egg yolks, instead of mixing immediately, it will make small curds. I know that I did this, so I think this is the cause of the error. Fortunately, pushing the pastry cream though a sieve fixed everything.

The crust was also very troublesome. I think I have learned my lesson: doughs with instructions on how to make them in the food processor only probably won't work if you make them by hand. I added some water to the recipe and finished making the crust the way I usually do and it seemed okay - maybe a touch too tough.

Happily, there were no incidents slicing the strawberries. Once everything was put together it was delicious and fancy looking, so all was forgiven.

Next I attempted the marble loaf cake. Everything went fine with this one, the taste was good, the crumb nice, but maybe a little dry. My marbling technique might need a little practice too.

Finally, I made the Swedish Visiting Cake. (I know this seems like an insane amount of baking - but I have been invited out a lot. So I am not eating all these desserts by myself. Otherwise I would be super jumbo by now.) The Swedish visiting cake was super fast to make and had an awesome technique. The lemon zest was grated over the sugar and then the sugar and zest is rubbed together by hand until the sugar is damp. I really liked this technique and think it really released the lemon flavour well.
Of the three desserts, this was my favourite. It was the easiest and tastiest. I made it for a barbecue with my friends Evangeline and Mike and Mike ate three pieces - a clear indication of it's tastiness.

Overall, I really have liked cooking from this book. There is a good mix of recipes, from the fairly simple ones I have tried, to fancy fancy birthday cakes and even some ice-cream recipes. I have a few other things I will be making for sure - like the honey peach ice-cream. The dessert maker's glossary at the end of the book makes it accessible for beginning bakers, but still had helpful information for a more experienced baker.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Lentil Pasta

Today was a big day for me. Sometimes, before big days, I get ever so slightly over worried. So I usually make myself something vegetarian and low in fat to make easier on my stomach.

But this pasta sauce I made yesterday was so delightful I will probably make it even on days I am not worried. I wasn't going to blog about it, but then I decided I didn't want to forget how I did it.

Vegetarian Pasta Sauce
(this is about 3 servings)

For the lentils:
1/4 cup green lentils
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic

For the sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 zucchini, quartered and sliced
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 tsp oregano
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
salt and pepper

1. To cook the lentils, cover the lentils in water, adding bay leave and garlic clove. I usually crush the garlic with the side of my knife a bit. Simmer for 30-45 min until lentils are tender, adding more water if necessary. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, fry onion in olive oil. When onion is softened, add garlic and fry one more minute, then add remaining vegetables. I tossed some salt on them at this point. Cook about 10 mins, stirring occasionally until they are soft.
3. Add vegetables, tomato sauce and oregano to drained lentils and bring to a simmer, adding a little salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


My breakfast today:
Strawberries, yogurt and granola.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Berry Vanilla Ice-Cream

So now I am on an ice-cream roll. Again I used Yannick's fruit smoothie technique. I made things really easy for myself by blending a bag of partial thawed mixed berries (I am sure Yannick will never speak to me now since he advocates using fresh ingredients. But I think the taste of these frozen berries is quite good.)

When Yannick and I were talking ice-cream flavours, I advocated many fruit and vanilla combinations. His advice was that vanilla is very strong and could overpower the taste of many fruits so I added only a little bit. I think its floral taste goes very nicely with the mix of fruits here.

Berry Vanilla Ice-Cream

500g mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice (really, just a good squeeze)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp vanilla, to taste

1. Blend all ingredients together. Taste to check sweetness and acidity. You might prefer to add a little more lemon juice, vanilla or sugar.
2. Push mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Obviously, this is a pain. But I think if you use raspberries or blackberries it is essential to remove the seeds.
3. Freeze in your ice-cream maker according to directions.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Mango Coconut Ice-Cream

You may recall that happy day when my friend Yannick invited Paul and I over for five kinds of ice-cream. Recently, he had us over again for an ice-cream tutorial. We made two kinds: raspberry-apricot and mango-star fruit. I was especially taken by how easy it was compared to making a custard.

Yannick has a really nice page of ice-cream recipes with some neat flavours on his website. But when we made ice-cream with him he had a special formula he starts with. For fruit ice-creams the base formula is to use:
500g of fruit
1 cup cream
1 cup sugar
1 lemon
and then mix it up with maybe adding some extra flavourings. So instead of making a custard, Yannick essentially makes a smoothie. In fact, now that I think of it, probably any thick smoothie can be made into a successful ice-cream.

I used his technique to make this ice-cream. I think I preferred slightly the version we had at his place using cream instead of coconut milk. Both Paul and my friend Karl found the coconut taste very subtle. However, they gave the ice-cream a good review.

Mango Coconut Ice-cream

500g mango (about two mangoes peeled and cut up)
1 cup sugar
1 cup coconut milk
juice from 1/2 a lemon

1. Blend all ingredients together. Taste to check sweetness and acidity. You might prefer to add a little more lemon juice or sugar.
2. Push mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Honestly, this is a pain in the ass, and I don't blame you if you decide to skip this step. But I think it is worth it for the texture - especially since the coconut milk I used had a few wayward flakes of coconut and because mango can have a stringy texture.
3. Freeze in your ice-cream maker according to directions.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Happy Birthday Dad

It's my Dad's birthday this week - and thus cake time.

Ever since I saw Martha's Birthday Cake in her Baking Handbook I have wanted to make a domed cake. But hers is almond with meringue, and my family is just not keen on almond and meringue.

So here's what I did instead:

1. Prepare a batter for a regular 9 inch layer cake. (I used a recipe from Cook's Illustrated, but honestly you could use a mix or whatever you like. Although the Cook's Illustrated "Old Fashoned Layer Cake" was seriously excellent.)

2. Bake the cake in a stainless steel bowl (greased and floured) that is 9 inches in diameter and about 4-5 inches deep. The recipe I followed had a baking time of 35-40 mins. In the bowl it took 1 hour and 30 mins - not quite 3 times the original cooking length. I started checking it after an hour though. Let it cool for about 10 mins in the bowl, then let cool on a rack.

3. Slice the cake into 3 or 4 layers - it really depends on how tall your cake is and how good you are at slicing. I used my bread knife to do this and I knew I couldn't make the slices quite level, so I drew a line with icing on the side of the cake. Then when I reassembled I used the line to reposition the layers correctly.

I filled the cake with kahlua butter cream icing. I reduced the kahlua first to intensify the coffee taste and cook out a little of the alcohol. I then covered the cake with chocolate ganache. Overall, while the entire process was time consuming, it was not very difficult. I think this domed shape would also work well for children's parties - you could decorate the dome to look like turtle or a hedgehog.

(Paul took this picture with his new camera.)

The cake was a huge hit - everyone liked it better than the one I made a couple weeks ago. The one thing I would do different next time is not used a poured icing. Once the cake was assembled it wasn't quite smooth so it wasn't quite as fantastic looking as one might like.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Roasted Mushooms

Below, you see a photo of my Saturday night dinner.

On my plate I have an assortment of roasted foods: sausage, onion, mini-potatoes and mushrooms. (On the side are some steamed asparagus). However, of all these roasted foods I wish to talk briefly on the roasted mushrooms. Seriously, they are the greatest thing ever. EVER! A couple weeks ago my mother threw some mushrooms in with whatever else she was roasted for Sunday night dinner and they were a huge hit. My family had never eaten mushrooms like this before - and we loved them. They were the most mushroomy mushrooms ever. I fully recommend doing this. The fact that it is dead easy doesn't hurt.

Roasted Mushrooms

some mushrooms, preferably the "brown" ones
a little olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Toss the mushrooms with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast on a parchment lined baking sheet at 425 F for 15mins.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Ice-cream is my favourite dessert. Invariably, come summer, I make assorted friends trek about the city to whatever ice-cream place is my current favourite. But my new favourite place is my own tiny kitchen. I followed this David Libowitz recipe from Orangette's blog. But I left out the mint - and the mint infusing step - and mixed in about a tbsp of this fabulous vanilla extract that Paul's mom lent me as the custard cools. This vanilla is anything but plain.

For reference here is the mix I used for the creme anglaise base.

5 egg yolks
1 1/3 cups 2% milk
1 2/3 cups whipping cream
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Something simple

Last night's dinner:
Pesto chicken
Asparagus risotto
Sliced Tomatoes

The pesto chicken was just baked chicken thighs with pesto spread under the skin. I used about a tsp of pesto per thigh - and I think I could have even doubled it.

This was my second attempt at making risotto. I tried last year and produced something gray and inedible. But I watched Mario Batali make it three times in the Times Minimalist video and felt ready to try myself. I skipped the asparagus puree step - I thought it would make too many dirty dishes. The risotto was quite tasty - but I still think some more practice might be in order.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

it's all about the baking

It was my brother's birthday this weekend. I made one of Ina's cakes, with a chocolate cream cheese icing. I made one substitution in the cake - using a mix of plain yogurt and a little milk instead of buttermilk.

As you can see I'm not the tidiest baker.

Additionally, the cake was a little hard to work with: the top was a bit sticky. You can see it got stuck to my hand when I took it out of the pan. I found the texture and airy crumb of the cake very much like a Duncan Hines mix.

The icing turned out fairly well, but needs a little fine tuning.
I got some ghirardelli cocoa powder and I found it to be nicer than the cheap no name cocoa I usually use - but as always I found the cake not chocolaty enough. I prefer the chocolaty flavour and dense texture of this bundt cake. But for my little brother only a layer cake would do. I would use this recipe again for a chocolate layer cake.