November 30, 2010

Cranberry-Apple Crumble Pie

Cranberries. Small, round balls of bouncy joy.  (You knew they bounced, right?)  Fresh cranberries are seldom seen outside November/December and so, are indicative of the holiday season and nothing else for me.  They make lovely decorations, but they make even better eats.  I put them in some awesome scones and made a delicious sauce, but they really seemed to shine in this apple-cranberry crumble pie.  This is the most perfect apple pie I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating, let alone making.  I know, I said I already have my apple pie just a few months ago, and it is the same crust, but the filling is even more perfect and the crumb topping is so much more flavourful and easier to eat than a top crust.  
The filling is perfectly cooked to give a great consistency. Not to goopy, not to thick.  It’s got a bit of cinnamon in it and the lemon really brightens it up.  The cranberries make for a beautiful foil to the sweet apples.  The crumb topping is just how it should be, nutty, buttery and cinnamony.  This pie evokes a familiar fall scent, colour and taste that is perfect for Thanksgiving.
Cranberry-Apple Crumble Pie
Adapted from Gourmet, Thanksgiving Issue, November 2009

2 1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt
1 c cold butter, cubed
1/4 c ice water
3 T sour cream (I used yogurt)
Crumble Topping:
3/4 c flour
1/4 c brown sugar (I used dark)
1/2 t cinnamon
1/8 t salt (leave out if you use salted butter)
4 T unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 c pecans, coarsely chopped (I used walnuts)
2 lb firm apples (about 5), peeled, cored and thinly sliced (I used honeycrisp)
8 oz of fresh or frozen not thawed cranberries
1/2 c brown sugar 
3 T flour
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
2 1/2 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 c unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces

To make crust: in a large bowl, whisk flour with salt.  Using a pastry blender cut in butter until there are only fine crumbs with a few larger pieces.
In a liquid measure whisk water in with sour cream.  Drizzle over flour mixture and toss briefly with a fork adding a little more water if necessary until ragged dough forms.

Divide dough in half and press into 2 disks, wrap.  Refrigerate until chilled, 30 minutes or longer.

For the topping, stir together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.  Blend in butter with your fingertips until large clumps form, this stir in nuts.  Refrigerate until needed.  
For the filling, stir together apples, cranberries, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and lemon juice in a large bowl.
To assemble pie preheat oven to 425 F with a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Roll out pie dough on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin to around 13 inches, then fit to the plate.  Trim the excess, leaving a 1/2 inch overhand, then fold the overhand under and crimp decoratively.  Transfer fruit filling to pie shell and dot with butter.  Loosely cover with foil and bake until apple droop slightly, about 30 minutes.  Reduce oven temp to 375 F and sprinkle crumble topping over filling and bake, uncovered, until crumble is browned, filling is bubbly and apples are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Cool completely.  

I topped mine with maple whipped cream.

November 30

The last few days have been: early darkness, full of laughter and dutch, the smell of turkey all night long, warm hugs and cranberries

Thanksgiving 2010

Our thanksgiving was awesome.  Period.  We had great company and good food.  It is something else to meet people for the first time while hosting a dinner in your own home.  We'd never done that before, but it was an awesome expierence.

What we made: (so I know where to find the recipes next year!)

We had Farmhouse brie with Agassiz hazelnuts and dried cranberries, mixed with a little Honeyview Farms honey.

The turkey was roasted off the bone by Shane
He made the turkey gravy by making a stock and reducing it down to only 10 oz.  Thickened with a roux, 1 oz butter, 1 oz flour
We had a potato and yam mash
green beans sauteed with bacon
I made this stuffing recipe with chorizo and a homemade poultry seasoning.
I made a cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries, half a cup of water and sugar and a little orange zest.  YUM!
I made my crusty bread by dividing my recipe in half, one half plain and one half aged cheddar and thyme.
I made my own butter found here.

Finally we ended with an apple cranberry pie (very good if I do say so myself.)  The pie crust was this recipe.  And the filling and crumble topping were from my Gourmet November 2009.  (Very last issue) (sad crying face)

I'm rather sad it is over.  Till next year turkey, goodbye.

November 28, 2010

Homemade Butter

Were having our Turkey Day 2010! celebration tomorrow.  I am super excited!  Shane and I sadly missed out on our Thanksgiving dinner back in October due to some unforeseen circumstances, so we, (I) decided it would be a lot of fun to invite my in-laws and visitors from Europe, over for a turkey dinner.  And a lot of fun it has been planning and thinking and list writing.  I've had full control over the menu because we're coming at it as a dinner party not Thanksgiving.  That just may be the best part, I basically get to design my dream Thanksgiving dinner!  I started cooking today, and one of the items on my list was homemade butter.

I figured that since I was making bread I needed a great butter to go along with it.  Homemade butter is very simple, it all comes down to quality of ingredients.  The better the cream you use the better the end result.  Unfortunately there are no organic creams to be found in my neck of the woods but even so, my butter far surpasses any store bought around here.  Do this as a project, its certainly not something I could use as a substitute in my baking, it's cheaper to buy at the store in pounds, but for on bread where you really taste the butter have a little fun.

Homemade Butter

You can add most anything to flavour the butter in the same step you add the salt.  You could add honey, for honey butter on toast.  You could add rosemary or thyme to melt over sauteed green beans.  You could add smoked paprika and dollop it on top of a steak.

You can easily double and triple the quantities to come out with a better yield.  Two cups of cream makes about 1/2 cup of butter.

2 c cream
salt to taste

Pour the cream into a stand mixer with a whisk attachment.  Cover the top of the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and turn mixer to medium-high speed.  Mix for 5-8 minutes.  The cream will go through the whipped stage and then turn yellowish in colour.  When the mix starts to look pebbly its almost done, just mix it for another minute or so until it separates and the liquid splashes up against the plastic.  Stop the mixer here.

Place a strainer over a bowl and dump the whole mixture into it.  The liquid that falls off is buttermilk and should be saved for baking.

Keeping the butter over the bowl knead the butter to get all the liquid out.  Knead until the butter is dense and creamy.  Mix in salt if you want, or keep it plain.  Refrigerate the butter in an air tight container until needed.


Tonight we visited Italy and it was delicious! We had ideas to go to Portugal but lacked the forethought, so that will have to wait till next week. This lasagna came out so good, much much better than it looks in the picture. I'd never made lasagna before, the main reason being that all the stellar recipes called for ricotta and it happens to be $6.50 for just over a cup at the store. Because I had the time and patience today I made the ricotta myself and saved a lot of money. Ricotta is very simple to make but takes some time.

To make the ricotta I took 2 L of 2% milk (next time I'll use whole milk) and 6 T of vinegar with 1 1/2t salt. I stirred it until it reached 140F then let it heat itself to 180F. Immediately I took it off and strained it into a colander lined with three layers of cheesecloth. I hung the cheesecloth from a cupboard for 40 minutes and then it was done. From the two litres, however I only got 6 oz of ricotta, so it should be noted that the waste is huge. I couldn't figure out what the byproduct of the process was (whey?) so I threw it out.

The lasagna was great. The ricotta was the only cheese except for a little parmesan, it provided a good creamy, cheesy flavour but without the grease and heaviness of most cheesy lasagnas. The meat was a mixture of spicy italian sausage and ground beef which was essential to the success of this recipe. The only thing missing for me was some of the tomato flavour, but Shane said he didn't miss it.

For dessert I made vanilla panna cotta and had with it some of the strawberries I preserved in syrup this spring. It was not flavourful enough unfortunately and to heavy. The portion sizes were to big as well, overall not a successful dessert. I had used the recipe from David Lebovitz. On it's plus side it was not to jelly as some panna cotta are and did have a nice creaminess to it. Next time I'll replace some of the cream with milk.

Serves 3-4
Adapted from Osteria by Rick Tramonto

Meat sauce:
1 1/2 T olive oil
1/4 large yellow onion
1 T minced garlic
500g ground spicy italian sausage
500 g ground beef
1/4 c white wine
14 oz crushed tomatoes
1/2 T ground fennel seeds
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 t dried oregano

Cheese filling:
500g ricotta cheese
1/2 beaten egg
1/4 c freshly grated parmesan cheese
kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

500g lasagna sheets (about 8)
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 F

To prepare filling heat oil in large saute pan on medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes until softened but not colored. Add the sausage and ground beef and cook 10-12 minutes until cooked through. With a slotted spoon scoop the meat and vegetables onto a plate and drain the fat left in the pan.
Add the wine and cook over medium-high, stirring with a wooden spoon to release any brown bits. Let the wine simmer for about 2 minutes or until the pan is dry. Add the spices and meat mixture back in. Add the tomatoes and let simmer together for at least 5 minutes.

To make cheese filling combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together very well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside until needed.

To prepare lasagna bring to boil a large amount of salted water. Cook for about 8 minutes until the pasta is cooked 75% through. Drain the pasta and work quickly to assemble so they don't get sticky.

To assemble take a 9x5 pan and spoon about 1/4 a of meat sauce in bottom. Trim two lasagna noodles to fit the pan. Top the noodles with 1/3 of the cheese mixture and 1/3 of the meat mixture and 1/3 of the parmesan cheese. Add more sheets of pasta and repeat layering, finishing with the parm. Bake for 1 hour until bubbling around the edges. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

November 26, 2010

One week

We've been busy. Hardly time for a breath. Not all of it good.

I started the week buying a craft table I've been wanting for a long time now. It finally came to doing because we have company coming over next week and I wanted that room the be finished. Now it is, it's my craft room and I love it. The table and two chairs came from a MCC I decided to stop into on a whim on my way to Costco (to buy a more expensive table.) This one fit perfectly and the added seating makes enough to host a dinner! To celebrate our table Shane and I painted canvas (to finish off the dining room). We had a blast doing it too!

We saw the new Harry Potter movie in our new movie theatre here in Chilliwack. It was SOO awesome! We loved it. I happen to be a HP finatic so I was super pumped for it.

I had a Christmas card class I attended on Wednesday where I picked up a few neat tricks and techniques I can't wait to use on my Christmas cards, hello night shift! I also finished a set of napkins for this holiday season.

I went to Vancouver to see Natasha and Erin. We went to Granville Island to stock up on goodies and had a great dinner Tash made us.

Today we had a funeral, we shed a lot of tears, all of us. It's time for a good sleep.

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

It's time for week six of ten weeks of Christmas cookies.  And this time I'm not bringing you a cookie or bar or even anything baked.  This time it's hot chocolate on a stick, one of my favorite treats in the winter.  This recipe is a no brainer for me because I don't usually have marshmallows in the house, they're full of bad for you ingredients, of course they don't usually end up in my hot chocolate as a result.  I should also mention I rarely have hot chocolate in the house, I don't typically find them all that good.  So once (or maybe twice) a year I make a batch of these to give away with my Christmas boxes, indulging in a few myself of course.

It's a block of fudge, I'm not kidding, you swirl into hot milk and a built in marshmallow!  I've made these marshmallows peppermint flavoured before which turned out really yummy.  Homemade marshmallows are different from store bought ones, they're lighter for one, and have a lot more flavour.  I really really like them!  (I'm going to try using my leftover marshmallows in place of marshmallow fluff in a fudge recipe, I'll let you know how it goes)

I got the recipe right here and I didn't stray from it at all.  But just a warning it makes a lot, even a half batch makes 20 or so (depending how you cut them) so share them.  Okay?

November 22, 2010

Dutch Night

Yesterday I woke up early and put on a batch of Sunday soup. Four hours later Natasha came over and we were in heaven. This soup comes straight out of our childhood. Every Sunday for 13 years I had this meal with my uncles, my dad, sisters and grandparents after church. Before I made it however, I never really thought about how to make it. Two years ago I attempted it and failed miserably. I didn't know the secrets, the time honed ways. Always yellow potatoes, and always cooked the night before. A marrow bone and stew beef simmered together in a pot of water for three hours. Meatballs with gehakt spice, milk, no eggs and breadcrumbs. After my first attempt I asked my Oma (the master of this craft, she's been doing this for over forty years) what went wrong. She was happy to tell me. I wrote it down and used her guide. This time was perfect.

To have the traditional Wilbrink (and maybe other people?) Sunday Soup you must have:

Sunday soup
Fried potatoes with dutch mayonnaise
Vanilla ice cream with homemade blackberry sauce.

We forgoed the ice cream (even though we had the sauce) for a lack luster butterscotch pudding. Very disappointing. Other than dessert this dinner brought us right back to our childhood. Full of flavour, salty and loaded with delicious fat.

We hope we can find a soup just like this when we are visiting relatives in Holland in 146 days!

Sunday Soup:

I forgot about the gehakt seasoning, so I didn't have any on hand. I did mix together coriander, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, cardamon, chili and oregano, in roughly equal parts and it tasted just like it should.

1 marrow bone, veal or beef
1 lb stewing beef, seared
1 package Groentesoep season mix (Honig brand)
1 recipe meatballs (follows)
spagettini noodles crushed with your hands into 1 inch pieces
maggi, saltine crackers (optional, but not in our house)

1 lb ground beef
1/4 c fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 c milk
1 T gehakt seasoning

Place marrow bone and seared stewing beef in a large pot and bring to a boil with 8 or so cups of water. Simmer for three hours. Mix meatballs and roll into 1 1/2 inch sized balls. Add in meatballs and one package of seasoning mix and simmer for 50 minutes. In last ten minutes of cooking add noodles. Serve piping hot with crackers crushed in and maggi sprinkled on top.

November 21, 2010

Double Chocolate Muffins

I had a strange hankering for a muffin last night.  A double chocolate muffin to be exact. Strange for one main reason, I don’t like muffins.  They’re usually way too dry or much too moist, and often lame in flavour.  Thank goodness this recipe worked out perfectly.  I had three chocolate muffin recipes open when my sister came over.  We deliberated and decided that this recipe sounded best.  We were right!  Wonderfully chocolaty, perfectly moist and a good size too, not one of those mini, no-rise muffins that usually plague my muffin making.  This recipe is a keeper.  Now if only my oven would stop burning everything!
Double Chocolate Muffins
adapted from here.

On a side note, if I hadn’t been so fiercely craving a plain old chocolate chunk muffin I definitely would have added dried cherries or cranberries at the very least.  A half cup or so would probably suffice.
125 g (1/2 c) butter
210 g (1 3/4 c) flour
50 g (1/2 c +2 T) cocoa powder
250 g (1 1/4 c) brown sugar
1 1/4 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 eggs
1 c whole milk
1 1/2 t vanilla
2 t white vinegar
1 c chocolate chopped into chunks
Preheat oven to 425 F and line 12 muffin tins with liners.  Melt butter in microwave and set aside to cool until needed.  Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl, smashing clumps of brown sugar with a whisk.  
Combine wet ingredients in a medium sized bowl including butter, adding vinegar last.  Stir quickly into dry mixture, mixing with a wooden spoon until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chunks last.  Using a large scoop evenly distribute the batter into liners.  They will be very full.  Bake for 17-22 minutes until the tops are not shiny and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack.  

November 20, 2010

A taste of winter

Today was sweet and salty toffee, frozen breath on a long walk, christmas carols and dinner planning for the holidays.

Simple Squash Soup

I’m bringing you the first savory recipe on this site, butternut squash soup.  It’s a quick dinner, that I decided to post on a whim, excuse the picture, I wanted to eat.  It’s darn simple in both preparation and ingredients but really tasty and comforting. 

I like my squash soups on the thinner side so that I don’t feel like I am eating baby food.  You could always choose to make yours thicker.
Butternut Squash Soup

I thought this would have been even better with a little goat cheese crumbled on top, but when I went to get some I found I was out.  If you wanted to knock it up a level you could add some chopped toasted nuts to the top along with said goat cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

I ate mine with my favourite salty biscuit.

1 T olive oil
1/4 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 small butternut squash, diced
2 c vegetable or chicken stock
a few sprigs of thyme
Heat a medium saucepan with oil.  Add onion, sauté for two minutes, stirring add garlic.  Cook one more minute before adding squash.  Bring stock with vegetables to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.  When the squash is done cooking add in thyme leaves.  Puree with hand held blender and season with salt and pepper.  

November 19, 2010

Nov 19

Oh what have I been up to you ask? Well...
I've been driving a lot, all over the place really. I spend far to much time in my car.

I had a wonderful evening with my two besties (even though one of them is my sister) going to the Christmas craft fair in Vancouver and eating at Nuba (yummm turkish coffee!).

I made a birthday cake for an 11 year old. (Which he didn't like! Worst sister ever. That's me.)

Made eggnog cookies, failed in a sourdough attempt and have a batch of yogurt incubating.

Went for a few walks with my dog of doom.

Ate a few of these

November 18, 2010

Hazelnut Cookies

It started with a bag of the most wonderful hazelnuts I’ve ever had.  Purely delicious.  While at the store the other morning I was deciding what nuts to buy for my granola when Shane suggested we try a trip to the hazelnut farm.  A farm he passes five times a week, twice a day and yet somehow, a farm we’ve never been to.  We dropped in after visiting our favourite honey farm, immediately we were given samples of more than a dozen different treats the farm makes on site.  That was the beginning of the end.  They roped us in and before we knew it, we came home with a bag of dry roasted hazelnuts, a coffee coated batch and a jar or hazelnut chocolate spread (also known as the jar that killed my thighs).

I put some hazelnuts in my granola and the rest in the freezer. This morning while searching for an easy fall treat, I noticed that I had hazelnut cookies written down on my 'To Bake' list.  I remember reading this recipe in my first issue of Martha Stewart.  They sounded so good, so simple and fresh that I didn’t want to use just any stale nuts from the store, so I added them to the list, thought about them a few times and waited.  This morning they were perfect.  Moist, crisp, buttery and nutty.  All you taste is hazelnuts and its all you want.  I added some chocolate on the top to make them a little more special (or maybe I really like Nutella!)

Now I'm sorry to say these aren't my weekly post of Christmas cookies, I'm just getting ready for another four night shifts, so bear with me, I hope to get them up this week yet.
Hazelnut Cookies 
(adapted from Martha Stewart)
Hazelnut meal, for those who haven’t heard, is just toasted hazelnuts (skins taken off) put in the food processor and blitzed to oblivion.  It’s a noisy ordeal I’ll warn you, but easy enough to do.  In the end the hazelnuts should be very fine.
125g (1/2 c) butter, room temperature
100g (1/2 c) sugar
150g (1 1/4 c) flour
1/2 c toasted hazelnut meal
1/2 t coarse salt
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 1/2 oz semisweet chocolate
Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until pale and creamy.  Add flour, hazelnut meal and salt, beat until dough forms.  
Roll out the dough in your hands to one inch balls.  Place on a cookie sheet and flatten slightly with a fork.  Bake until the edges of the cookie are golden brown, 12-13 minutes.  

In a medium bowl chop chocolate in place over a pan of simmering water.  Once chocolate is melted dip the tops of the cookies and place on a rack to harden.  

November 17, 2010

Right Now

Time: 5:04pm

In my mug: I had an eggnog latte on my drive

On the stereo: Peter Bradley Adams

In my belly: an apple most recently, but a yummy oatmeal coconut cookie tash gave me before that

In the fridge: eggnog and perogies

Last thing on the laptop: looking up stuff about greece

On my wish list: A really big wood cutting board

Looking forward to: Tonight with Tash and Erin at the Christmas Craft Market here in Vancouver followed by dinner at Nuba(hopefully) and Hunter's birthday tomorrow!

On the nightstand: Baking for all occasions by Dorie Greenspan

Recently satisfied: Getting a great price on flights

November 16, 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Bars

These treats are addictive.  There is your warning.  They’re crispy and topped with a lot of chocolate.  I made them before I started decorating the house for Christmas and haven’t been able to stop myself from eating more.  The bars use Candy Cane Kisses which I bought specifically for this purpose.  I am not normally a fan of Kisses. Not to sound like a snob, but the chocolate sucks.  These seasonal ones have actual candy cane pieces that are awesome little bits of texture and minty flavour.  So first you get a crispy, chewy bar topped with chocolate, then, Candy Cane Kisses, and finally white chocolate.  Maybe you can understand why I can’t put them down?

Chocolate Peppermint Bars 
I halved the recipe as per my usual
Adapted from here

240 g (2 c) flour
1/4 t salt
250 g (1 c) butter, at room temperature
200g (1 c) sugar
1 t vanilla
1 egg yolk
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 c chopped Hershey’s candy cane kisses
2 oz white chocolate
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spray a 13x9 pan with nonstick spray.  Then line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the short sides of the pan.  Lightly spray the parchment too.
Whisk the flour and salt together in a small bowl.  In a mixer, mix butter until creamy (about two minutes).  Add your sugar until light and fluffy, around three minutes.  Scrape down the bowl and then add vanilla and egg yolk.  Gradually add the flour mixture, beating on low just to blend.  
Drop the dough into the pan. Using moistened fingertips press in an even layer.  Pierce dough all over with a fork and bake for 20-25 minutes.  The cookie base will be light golden brown and slightly puffed with the edges starting to come away from the pan.  Take out of the oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate over.  Let stand for 5 minutes before spreading the now melted chocolate over the cookie base in an even layer.  Right away sprinkle the kisses over the melted chocolate.  
Stir the white chocolate in a medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water until melted and smooth.  When the chocolate is ready drizzle it all over the kisses and let it set for at least 30 minutes.  

November 15, 2010

Polish Night

We did it! We booked the flights It took a really long time on hold and an extra $600 but we fly into Paris April 18th and fly out of Brussels July 18th! I can hardly believe it. So to celebrate we decided food was in order. I made a list of the countries we are planning to see (I've been planning these countries 12 months already!) and a food associated with each country. Yesterday we started with perogies from Poland. We want to go to Krakow and side trip at least one day in Auschwitz. It's going to be an insense few days full of perogies, vodka (ew) and saurkraut.

Sorry about the quality of the photos, I hate photographing dinner but I want to remember all these meals.

Shane did an awesome job, they were so good! He made this dough recipe. We filled some of them with potato and cheese, and some with potato, cheese, sausage and thyme. After we boiled them we fried them with bacon, onions and topped them with sour cream.

November 15

Spent yesterday going out for lunch to Rowena's with Shane, which was a very enjoyable expierence. On our way there we checked out the hazelnut farm, which I'll have to tell you about some day soon because their products are phenomenal. We also went to the honey farm to stock up. To finish the night we made perogies and watched travel videos after we finally changed out fights to europe.
Today I decorated for Christmas and argued with Shane wether or not to listen to Christmas music! Anyway the decorating is coming along slowly. Already its better than I've ever done. Go me.

November 14, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pudding

Do you ever have those moments when your recipe list is a mile long, but you see something you know will jump right to the top?  Usually it’s a flavour. Something you didn’t know you were craving, but nothing will seem right until it’s in your hands (and in your belly.)  Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s because my world revolves around food and my brain just isn’t quite wired like everyone else's. I guess that makes you kind of lucky, because I’m bringing you this recipe exactly 48 hours after I first laid eyes on it and not a moment to soon.
This recipe sat with me because of the flavours. Peanut butter and chocolate, two of my absolute favorites.  If there is a combination I know will never quit working, it’s these two.   Pudding has been on my mind lately, popping up all around me so I can never quite forget. Natasha, this recipe is for you because I know it’s been on your mind too.  

The chocolate layer is not to sweet, but rich and dark and the peanut butter layer is light and sweetens the whole pot up nicely.  I added whipped cream and purposely didn’t sweeten it. It didn’t need it.  Even though I know it’s a pain in the butt, I recommend that you add the whipped cream too.  It adds a wonderful contrast in texture.  Cooked pudding is a lot thicker than the instant stuff, it’s more like a a nice thick ganache, so a little goes a long way!  I lapped this pudding up. Right to the very last drop it was smooth, creamy, thick and totally easy. So if I come over to your kitchen I better not see a boxed pudding mix stashed away somewhere. Your body, and taste buds, deserve better.

What about you?  What is your ‘can’t wait’ recipe?
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Pudding  
a half batch of this made 5 servings for me
Peanut butter layer
100g (1/2 c) sugar
1 T cornstarch
 1/8 t salt
1 3/4 c milk
1/2 c cream
1/2 c natural peanut butter
1 t vanilla
Chocolate layer
75 g (6 T) sugar
1 T cornstarch 
2 T cocoa powder
1/8 t salt
1 1/2 c milk
1/2 c cream
4 oz bitter or unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 t vanilla
1/2 c whipped cream
For the peanut butter layer mix the first three ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Slowly incorporate milk and cream.  Place over medium heat and stir often until the mixture comes to a boil.  Boil for 20 or so seconds, whisking constantly so it doesn’t burn and then beat in peanut butter.  Boil until thick whisking often for about 30 seconds.  Immediately take off heat, stir in vanilla.  Divide pudding into 8-10 serving cups.  Chill uncovered while you make the chocolate layer.
For the chocolate layer mix together first four ingredients in a large saucepan (or just rinse the other pot, if you, like me, don’t have a dish washer).  Gradually whisk in milk and cream.  Bring to a boil stirring frequently over medium heat.  Boil until thick, whisking constantly for about 20 seconds, then add the chopped chocolate and stir while melting until the mixture boils for another minute.  Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla.  Let the mixture sit for around 5 minutes.  Divide mixture among dishes and refrigerate uncovered until cold, at least two hours.  

Before serving whip cream and spoon over pudding.  

November 11, 2010


I just wanted to tell my future self (since I'm the only one who read this!) that this is an awesome song. I've listened to it for at least a year now. But just so I don't forget and for your listening pleasure.

Don't mind the dumb video just listen.

Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

Week four of ten weeks of Christmas cookies.  HOW CAN IT BE WEEK FOUR ALREADY??  Sorry, I’m just a little worried about where my time has disappeared to.  Has anyone seen it?
I made these little, very unassuming bites of Christmas three days ago.  I had sort of a bake-a-thon-alyssa-has-gone-crazy day.  I love those.  I just bake everything that’s made my To Bake list in the last few days and give it all away.  
These freeze really well, so they, or some variation of them will be in my treat boxes. 

Cranberry orange shortbread cookies

Go here and see pictures that are a million and ten times better than mine!
The cranberry adds an awesome chewy contrast to the crisp cookie and the orange is Christmas in a fruit.  They’re easy and fun and versatile.  Enjoy.

Makes enough for two people to consume in a few days, maybe 18-24 cookies.  The recipe doubles very easily.
92 g (1/2 c + 2 T ) butter, room temperature
75 g (1/4 c + 2 T) icing sugar
1 t vanilla 
1/4 t almond extract
1/2 T orange zest
1/4 c dried cranberries, chopped
120 g (1 c) flour
1/8 t baking powder
small pinch of salt
Beat butter with mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamed, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Slowly add the icing sugar, beating until smooth.  Add vanilla, almond extract, orange zest and cranberries and beat until smooth.  
On low speed mix in flour, baking powder and salt until blended. 
Form dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches wide and wrap with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate  for at least one hour.  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or silpat.  Remove plastic wrap and slice 1/4 to 1/2 an inch thick rounds.  Space at least one inch apart.  They don’t spread much.  Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.  

November 9, 2010

November 9

I’m a weird-o don’t ya know?

Fact: I love to clean

Fact: Travel dvds make me insanely happy

Fact: I plan everything, except when I don’t want to, this usually lets everyone down

Fact: I’m starting to conquer my dead-stop-on-the-highway-road rage

Fact: It makes me really sad when the street lights turn on at 4:30pm (today)

Fact: Salt makes my husband insanely happy, in fact sometimes I catch him dipping a wet finger into the salt bag (also our citric acid bag). So I make him these.

leaves everywhere

Salted Caramels

Something you should know about me.   I hate night shifts.  Hate them with a passion.  To say that to work a block of them ruins my week is only nine tenths true.  One tenth of my week continues to be enjoyable, between the hours of 4-9 when I can do normal people things, eat dinner and relax with my dog.  Maybe bake (even though I usually do this in the morning) and clean a little.  Everything else is totally messed up, my clock is completely off and the thirty minute commute home is the deadliest drive I make in the year.  
These could help make my night shifts slightly more bearable.  These salted caramels are divine.  Dark and sweet with a lick of salt they melt in your mouth, yet are very chewy.  You can’t consume these fast, if you chew them they’ll make your teeth stick together.  You need to savour these, it’s a built in requirement.  The salt makes the caramel really shine, while cutting down on the sweetness.

Salted Caramels - adapted from here

You don’t need anything fancy to make these, though not everyone has a candy thermometer, it’s definitely necessary for this recipe’s success.  
300g (1 1/2 c) sugar
1/2 c light corn syrup
1 c heavy cream
75 g (5 T) butter
1 t fleur de sel
1/2 t vanilla
Line an 8 inch pan with parchment, leave an overhang on two sides to make it easier to pick up later.  Spray with oil to coat.  In a deep saucepan combine sugar and corn syrup with 1/4 c of water and place on med-high heat.  Continue to boil until mixture is golden brown syrup, careful at the end, it turns fast.  Meanwhile combine cream, butter and fleur de sel and place over med-low heat until it simmers, then take off heat.  
When sugar mixture is a warm, golden colour take it off the heat and SLOWLY add the cream mixture into is whisking as you go.  Watch out it will expand rapidly and mine even bubbled over a little.  Stir in vanilla and insert candy thermometer into pot.  Cook over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes until the thermometer registers 248 degrees.  This is the firm ball stage.  Immediately pour caramel into greased pan and refrigerate until firm.  
When the caramels are cold take them from the fridge and lift using the parchment handles onto a cutting board.  (I had to leave mine at room temperature for 40 minutes until they were soft enough to cut, otherwise they shattered.)  Cut into 1 inch squares and sprinkle with fleur de sel.  I keep mine at room temperature so they are ready to pop in my mouth at a moments notice.  Extras freeze.