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.