Thursday, May 28, 2009

Another Partner for Cream Cheese Frosting

The local Costco sells yummy pans of cinnamon rolls topped with cream cheese frosting. Since I had some frosting left over from making carrot muffins, I decided to make some cinnamon rolls too. I found this recipe on the internet quite a few years back. It claims to be a copy cat recipe for Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls. Since I've never (at least I don't think I have) had a Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll I cannot comment on whether they taste like them or not.....but they are good:)

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls in the Bread Machine

1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
4 tbsp melted butter
1/2 box instant vanilla pudding (3.4 oz or 92g box)
4 cups bread flour (I used 3 1/2 cups as previous batch seemed too dry)
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raisins

Place all ingredients for the dough in your bread machine in the order recommended by your manufacturer. Place the pan in the machine. Slect the dough cycle and press start. When the cycle is finished, remove the dough, knead enough to punch down and roll to 17 X 10". Combine the first three filling ingredients and mix well. Heat in the microwave 10 seconds or less to make it spreadable. Spread over the rolled out dough with rubber spatula. Set as close to the edges as possible. Sprinkle with nuts or raisins if using. Starting with widest side, roll the dough into a tight log. Sut into 1/2 inch to 1 inch slices. Place ina lightly greased baking pan with sides. Put in a warm draft free place and allow to rise until double. Heat oven to 350F. Bake for 15-20 minutes. When the rolls are done top with the frosting of your choice. This time I used Aunt Pat's Yummy Cream Cheese Frosting from this post.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Apple Cranberry Strudel

This whole month I've been anticipating making the Daring Bakers Challenge. I was pretty excited to give this whole strudel making thing a try. This is definitely just one of those things that I always think might be something interesting to try.......but never get around to it. Well no more wondering how one would go about making one now! I was a little anxious about it, but decided to jump right in......what's the worst that could happen right. Although the recipe provided was for apple strudel, we were allowed to chose any filling we wanted. But it just so happened that I have had a large bag of apples in the fridge that needed to get used up. Plus I have also had this bottle of vodka soaked cranberries waiting to add to a pound cake recipe. Many years back I remember making an apple cranberry pie that I really got to thinking I'd do the same for the strudel filling but instead I would use up the vodka marinated cranberries rather than fresh cranberries. The cranberries released a lot of pinkness into the pie filling making it less obvious what kind of filling it might actually be. In any event here are the details of the challenge.

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

I actually worried a bit that the dough did not look smooth enough as I set it aside to rest.....But as I began to roll it (2 hours later) I noticed that my worrying had been for no reason as the dough was beautifully soft and easy to work with. I ended up stretching the dough into a 30" circle. I didn't bother trying to make the shape into a rectangle. It was a handful already trying to work a piece of dough that large. The whole process was no where near as intimidating as I imagined it would be, and I will definitely try one again. I took my time stretching the dough out to as thin as I could get it, and it was a bit of a challenge to do so without creating holes. On a second try, I would sprinkle sugar over the top of the dough to improve the look of it. I actually preferred the strudel the next day rather just after baking as the pastry was a little too crisp for me just after baking. The vodka soaked cranberries did not release as much colour as the frozen ones had in the pie filling I had made before, but I enjoyed the flavour combination. I increased the cinnamon measure in the recipe to 3/4 tsp and would add even more the next time, and of course I omitted the nuts and substituted about 3/4 cup cranberries for the raisins.

If you'd like to give it a try, here is the recipe we were given.

Preparation time
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes

15-20 min to make dough
30-90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the filling
20-30 min to roll out and stretch dough
10 min to fill and roll dough
30 min to bake
30 min to cool

Apple strudel
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum
3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe below)
1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)

1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.

3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the walnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts.

4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

Strudel dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.
Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.
Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.
Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

- Ingredients are cheap so we would recommend making a double batch of the dough, that way you can practice the pulling and stretching of the dough with the first batch and if it doesn't come out like it should you can use the second batch to give it another try;
- The tablecloth can be cotton or polyster;
- Before pulling and stretching the dough, remove your jewelry from hands and wrists, and wear short-sleeves;
- To make it easier to pull the dough, you can use your hip to secure the dough against the edge of the table;
- Few small holes in the dough is not a problem as the dough will be rolled, making (most of) the holes invisible.

Both Courtney and I did a trial run on making the strudel. Below are our notes:

Courtney's notes
- She could't get it to stretch to 2 feet by 3 feet, it turned out more like 2 feet by 2 feet. But the dough was tissue thin nevertheless;
- She got some serious holes, but after rolling it wasn't noticeable;
- She used a large cheese cloth which helped manipulate and stretch the dough more than a heavier cloth would have.

My notes
- I made the dough by hand, just mixed the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Kneaded it for about 5 min like you would bread dough. This worked as well. Haven't tried using a standmixer so I don't know how it compares.
- Instead of cider vinegar I used red wine vinegar;
- I used bread flour;
- Picking up the dough to let it stretch didn't work well for me, holes appeared pretty much instantly. Instead I stretched the dough while it was lying on the tablecloth by putting my hands underneath and stretching it out further and further;

Here's a link to a strudelmaking video that might help you a bit.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What to do with all that Zucchini!!

We are back now from an extra long weekend away. It was a nice chance to visit with family and friends, and to try out the Volkswagon camper van. We had an interesting sight within the first 30 minutes of driving, and it looked like it was going to be a lucky trip. It's not very often that I've been able to see the complete rainbow from end to end. We could this time although it did not fit in the photo all at once. This is as close as I've ever come to finding the end of the rainbow although we never did get to the pot of gold.....the end seemed to move every time we got closer. I think the man with the stop sign was a little large to be a leprechaun.........but what would I know......I've never been that close to one before.
Our stay in the mountains was fun. Food always seems to taste better when cooked on a camp stove, and baked beans just seem like the appropriate side dish for any camping meal. We had our first breakfast in the mountains of Pancakes (I had some buttermilk to use up), bacon, and pork and beans of course.

Spring is well underway here (despite the fact that it snowed on our return drive). Everyone is just itching to plant up their gardens. In light of the recent snow we may wait a bit longer. While in the market I got a great deal on some zucchinis and it made me think again about planting and what I should attempt to grow this year. And my thoughts wandered to zucchini. It seems that everyone has a friend with an over active zucchini don't they??? Well if you have an over abundance of zucchini, here are two things that I enjoy that are good at using it up. It goes almost without saying that most people have an awesome Chocolate Zucchini Cake recipe and a delicious zucchini loaf recipe, and I do have two that I would share, but they are yet to be made this season. With two zucchini sitting in the fridge.....I don't think that they are too far behind. But to start out with are two that you might not have tried.

With BBQ season officially on us, there will be a lot of burgers this summer. One of the toppings I really enjoy (especially on a chicken burger) is this Zucchini Relish Recipe from Company's Coming (A very popular series of Canadian Cookbooks) I was introduced to this recipe by my aunt Lucille while visiting one summer in Victoria. Her family makes a batch each and every year to stock up for BBQ season. It is a fresh and sweet tasting relish perfect for chicken or beef burgers. If you'd like to use up some zucchini, give it a try!

Zucchini Relish

5 cups Zucchini with peel, about 1/8 th inch chopped
2 cups onion , similarly chopped
2 1/2 tbsp coarse (pickling) salt
1 small green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 1/4 cups white vinegar
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp celery seed
2 tsp corn starch
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine the zucchini, onion and salt in a large bowl. Cover and let stand on the counter over night. Drain, and rinse in cold water. Drain. Turn into a large pot.
Add remaining ingredients. Heat on medium-high, stirring often, until it boils. Boil gently, uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into hot sterilized jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Seal. Makes 5-6 half pint (one cup) jars.

Another thing we like to make when we find ourselves inundated with zucchini is zucchini fritters. I got this recipe from a good friend many years ago. I'm not sure if this is a typical Italian recipe, but she and her family are from Italy and their cooking usually reflects that. In any event, after having some at her house along with some.....okay maybe a lot......of home made wine........I asked for the recipe. It is a very easy thing to make and the recipe was related to me not so much as a recipe but more of a method.

Today, I had a zucchini about 10 inches long to use up, and it produced about 2 1/2 cups chopped zucchini.......When I make this, I never measure anything.............but this seems to be roughly the amounts I used today. This batch made enough for four people, and we had these along with our chicken and beef burgers.

Zucchini Fritters

1 medium zucchini (about 10 inches long)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
enough flour to hold it all together (I used about 1/2 cup)

Remove, stem from zucchini and chop the entire zucchini into 1 inch cubes. Put this into a pot large enough to hold it and add a 1/2 inch of water to the pot. Bring to a boil on the stove and put on the lid. Once it has reached a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until you can easily put a fork through the zucchini....about 3-5 minutes. Drain away all the water. Put the softened zucchini into a medium mixing bowl. Add eggs, milk, cheese, and seasonings and give it a little stir. Add flour a few tablespoons at a time until you have a stiff batter. It should not be runny like pancake batter.
Heat a small skillet with 1/2 inch of vegetable oil over medium high heat. Drop heaping tablespoons of batter into the hot oil and fry about 2 minutes per side until they are golden on each side. If you find they are spreading too much in the pan, stir in a bit more flour.
Serve with a dip. Ranch or Caesar is nice, but my son likes them with ketchup.....not a big surprise. Tonight, I had them with Jufran Banana Ketchup. Ike will even eat them in his lunch the next day.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ricotta Gnocchi......Finally

Well, I'm off to a roaring start with my Daring Cooks Challenge aren't I. Our weekend away and preparing for it took a bite out of my spare time to do fun things and I just did not see how I would get this challenge completed on time without losing my sanity. So...better late than never right!
I wanted to try making the ricotta cheese but decided not to due to time constraints. I flavoured the gnocchi itself with lemon zest and black truffle sea salt, and made a butter sauce with a citrus and white wine reduction which I really liked. I don't know if I would make this particular type of gnocchi again. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the gnocchi they were a bit more delicate an operation than I would have patience for. If I did it again, I would definitely make a 1/2 a recipe. It was quite slow going as I found I could only make 6 at a time as they all needed to be removed individually since they are so delicate. That being said....if someone wanted to make these for me...I would eat them! Ike ate quite a few of them without I think that's a good thing. Without any further elaboration, here are the particulars.
We have chosen a recipe from the stunning cookbook by Judy Rodgers, named after her restaurant, The Zuni Café Cookbook.

Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi

Source: From The Zuni Café Cookbook.

Yield: Makes 40 to 48 gnocchi (serves 4 to 6)

Prep time: Step 1 will take 24 hours. Steps 2 through 4 will take approximately 1 hour.


- If you can find it, use fresh ricotta. As Judy Rodgers advises in her recipe, there is no substitute for fresh ricotta. It may be a bit more expensive, but it's worth it.
- Do not skip the draining step. Even if the fresh ricotta doesn't look very wet, it is. Draining the ricotta will help your gnocchi tremendously.
- When shaping your gnocchi, resist the urge to over handle them. It's okay if they look a bit wrinkled or if they're not perfectly smooth.
- If you're not freezing the gnocchi for later, cook them as soon as you can. If you let them sit around too long they may become a bit sticky.
- For the variations to the challenge recipe, please see the end of the recipe.

Equipment required:

- Sieve
- Cheesecloth or paper towels
- Large mixing bowl
- Rubber spatula
- Tablespoon
- Baking dish or baking sheet
- Wax or parchment paper
- Small pot
- Large skillet
- Large pan or pot (very wide in diameter and at least 2 inches deep)

Videos that might help:

- Judy Rodgers Gnocchi Demo
- Making fresh ricotta demo
- Making ricotta gnocchi

For the gnocchi:

1 pound (454 grams/16 ounces) fresh ricotta (2 cups)
2 large cold eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) unsalted butter
2 or 3 fresh sage leaves, or a few pinches of freshly grated nutmeg, or a few pinches of chopped lemon zest (all optional)
½ ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (about ¼ cup very lightly packed)
about ¼ teaspoon salt (a little more if using kosher salt)
all-purpose flour for forming the gnocchi

For the gnocchi sauce:

8 tablespoons (227 grams/1/4 pound/4 ounces) butter, sliced
2 teaspoons water

Step 1 (the day before you make the gnocchi): Preparing the ricotta.

If the ricotta is too wet, your gnocchi will not form properly. In her cookbook, Judy Rodgers recommends checking the ricotta’s wetness. To test the ricotta, take a teaspoon or so and place it on a paper towel. If you notice a very large ring of dampness forming around the ricotta after a minute or so, then the ricotta is too wet. To remove some of the moisture, line a sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels and place the ricotta in the sieve. Cover it and let it drain for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can wrap the ricotta carefully in cheesecloth (2 layers) and suspend it in your refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours with a bowl underneath to catch the water that’s released. Either way, it’s recommended that you do this step the day before you plan on making the gnocchi.

Step 2 (the day you plan on eating the gnocchi): Making the gnocchi dough.

To make great gnocchi, the ricotta has to be fairly smooth. Place the drained ricotta in a large bowl and mash it as best as you can with a rubber spatula or a large spoon (it’s best to use a utensil with some flexibility here). As you mash the ricotta, if you noticed that you can still see curds, then press the ricotta through a strainer to smooth it out as much as possible.

Add the lightly beaten eggs to the mashed ricotta.

Melt the tablespoon of butter. As it melts, add in the sage if you’re using it. If not, just melt the butter and add it to the ricotta mixture.

Add in any flavouring that you’re using (i.e., nutmeg, lemon zest, etc.). If you’re not using any particular flavouring, that’s fine.

Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the salt.

Beat all the ingredients together very well. You should end up with a soft and fluffy batter with no streaks (everything should be mixed in very well).

Step 3: Forming the gnocchi.

Fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil. When it boils, salt the water generously and keep it at a simmer. You will use this water to test the first gnocchi that you make to ensure that it holds together and that your gnocchi batter isn’t too damp.

In a large, shallow baking dish or on a sheet pan, make a bed of all-purpose flour that’s ½ an inch deep.

With a spatula, scrape the ricotta mixture away from the sides of the bowl and form a large mass in the centre of your bowl.

Using a tablespoon, scoop up about 2 to 3 teaspoons of batter and then holding the spoon at an angle, use your finger tip to gently push the ball of dough from the spoon into the bed of flour.

At this point you can either shake the dish or pan gently to ensure that the flour covers the gnocchi or use your fingers to very gently dust the gnocchi with flour. Gently pick up the gnocchi and cradle it in your hand rolling it to form it in an oval as best as you can, at no point should you squeeze it. What you’re looking for is an oval lump of sorts that’s dusted in flour and plump.

Gently place your gnocchi in the simmering water. It will sink and then bob to the top. From the time that it bobs to the surface, you want to cook the gnocchi until it’s just firm. This could take 3 to 5 minutes.

If your gnocchi begins to fall apart, this means that the ricotta cheese was probably still too wet. You can remedy this by beating a teaspoon of egg white into your gnocchi batter. If your gnocchi batter was fluffy but the sample comes out heavy, add a teaspoon of beaten egg to the batter and beat that in. Test a second gnocchi to ensure success.

Form the rest of your gnocchi. You can put 4 to 6 gnocchi in the bed of flour at a time. But don’t overcrowd your bed of flour or you may damage your gnocchi as you coat them.

Have a sheet pan ready to rest the formed gnocchi on. Line the sheet pan with wax or parchment paper and dust it with flour.

You can cook the gnocchi right away, however, Judy Rodgers recommends storing them in the refrigerator for an hour prior to cooking to allow them to firm up.

Step 4: Cooking the gnocchi.

Have a large skillet ready to go. Place the butter and water for the sauce in the skillet and set aside.

In the largest pan or pot that you have (make sure it’s wide), bring at least 2 quarts of water to a boil (you can use as much as 3 quarts of water if your pot permits). You need a wide pot or pan so that your gnocchi won’t bump into each other and damage each other.

Once the water is boiling, salt it generously.

Drop the gnocchi into the water one by one. Once they float to the top, cook them for 3 to 5 minutes (as in the case with the test gnocchi).

When the gnocchi float to the top, you can start your sauce while you wait for them to finish cooking.

Place the skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Swirl it gently a few times as it melts. As soon as it melts and is incorporated with the water, turn off the heat. Your gnocchi should be cooked by now.

With a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi from the boiling water and gently drop into the butter sauce. Carefully roll in the sauce until coated. Serve immediately.

Variations: For the gnocchi, you can flavour them however you wish. If you want to experiment by adding something to your gnocchi (i.e., caramelized onion, sundried tomato), feel free to do so. However, be forewarned, ricotta gnocchi are delicate and may not take well to elaborate additions. For the sauce, this is your chance to go nuts. Enjoy yourselves. Surprise us!!!

Freezing the gnocchi: If you don’t want to cook your gnocchi right away or if you don’t want to cook all of them, you can make them and freeze them. Once they are formed and resting on the flour-dusted, lined tray, place them uncovered in the freezer. Leave them for several hours to freeze. Once frozen, place them in a plastic bag. Remove the air and seal the bag. Return to the freezer. To cook frozen gnocchi, remove them from the bag and place individually on a plate or on a tray. Place in the refrigerator to thaw completely. Cook as directed for fresh gnocchi.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Foolproof Chocolate Frosting

It had been a very busy week at work for my DH. It seems that every time his boss takes holidays, something goes wrong at work. This last set of holidays were no different...except for the fact that maybe it was a bigger problem than usual. After a solid week of 15 hour days and the weekend checking on repairs.....DH was pretty excited to have his boss return to work and requested a welcome back cake for him. We decided on cup cakes, as these would be easier to share with everyone.

As it was already late in the evening, I decided to just open up a cake mix. I baked up a batch of 24 Golden Cupcakes and DH himself made a batch of Foolproof Chocolate Frosting from an episode of America's Test Kitchen that he had watched. I filled the cupcakes with a tbsp of strawberry filling using the recipe from the Cheesecake Topping or Glaze at the bottom of the page. I filled them by cutting out a cone shapes from the top of each cupcake, cutting off the point, filling each cupcake bottom, and then replacing the top. Once the tops were replaced, I frosted them with the frosting DH had made.

I was pleasantly surprised with the flavour and texture of the Golden Cake mix, and the strawberry and chocolate frosting were a very nice combination. I may make these again sometime when I feel the need for a quick bake. The frosting recipe turned out to be a keeper and I will most definitely be making it many times more! It had great texture, was super chocolately, and remained yummy smooth without crusting over. And I will add....that it's delicious left over in the fridge:)

Foolproof Chocolate Frosting

This frosting may be made with milk, semisweet, or bittersweet chocolate. Cool the chocolate to between 85 and 100 F before adding it to the butter mixture. The frosting can be made 3 hours in advance. For longer storage, refrigerate the frosting, covered, and let it stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.

Makes 3 cups to frost one 9 inch 2-layer cake.

20 tbsp (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened (60-65 F)
1 cup icing sugar
3/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa
pinch table salt
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 ounces milk chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

In food processor, process butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape sides of the bowl, then add chocolate and pulse until smooth and creamy, 10 to 15 seconds. Frosting can be used immediately or held.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Kheer....Indian Rice Pudding

I had almost a litre of whole milk to use up before the expiry date......three cups to be more precise. I was thinking about perhaps a bread pudding......there is a Fine Cooking recipe for that I've been wanting to try........or maybe a home made chocolate pudding. Since I was out of chocolate and didn't have a large amount of bread to use up, which is actually an unusual occurrence in this house.....I decided to try an Indian Rice Pudding. I love rice pudding!......and I really love Indian Rice Pudding. I am a big fan of cardamom. So I googled a bit and came up with this recipe to try. I quite liked it and I increased the recipe size to use up all of the 3 cups of milk I had on hand. It was expected and I will be trying it again at some point. I was out of pistachio nuts and replaced them with almonds which I did have on hand. The recipe came from this lady originally, but I cannot locate the blog I found it on now. You should have look at the beautiful cakes she makes!

Swati's Rice Pudding

50 g basmati rice or other long grain rice
250ml whole milk
100g white sugar

1/2 tsp ground cardamom, (I used 4 whole green pods)

2 whole cloves
a pinch of saffron threads
pistachio nuts, chopped for garnish

Soak rice in water for 20 minutes. Heat milk and and bring to a gentle boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and discard the water from the rice. Add the drained rice to the simmering milk. Simmer and stir another 10 to 15 minutes while the rice cooks. Add cardamom, cloves, saffron and sugar and continue to simmer and stir for a further 10 to 15 minutes. At this point the milk should have thickened slightly and still be a bit on the runny side. Remove all whole spices. Garnish with chopped pistachio nuts.

You may add in raisins at the end while the pudding is still warm and they will plump up as they soak in the pudding. I found the pudding a little too sweet and will try it again with 20% less sugar.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rebar Lime Sugar Cookies

I promised Ike as we left for school this morning, that there would be fresh cookies in the cookie jar when he came home from school today. I've had my eye on this recipe for a while now and since the book will soon be due back at the library, I thought I'd better give it a try.

I really liked it and will definitely try them again.......they might be nice with a drizzle of lime glaze over the top....but then......what wouldn't...... I used a smaller scoop...the number 50 scoop that is about a 1 oz scoop and the recipe yielded 27 nicely chewy cookies that were plenty big enough. I also cooked them just until they began to become golden around the edges.....that was about 8 minutes even though the cookies were smaller than suggested by the recipe. Ike had his with a little glass of milk, and I had mine with a big cup of Maple Tea...Yum!

Lime Sugar Cookies
Yields 11 large cookies

1 cup (240ml) white sugar
1/4 (60ml) unsalted butter

1 tbsp (15ml) vegetable oil
zest of one lime
1 large egg

2 tbsp (30ml) lime juice

1 3/4 cups (420ml) unbleached flour

1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted and roughly chopped
1/2 (2.5mL) baking soda

1/2 tsp (2.5ml) salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cream the sugar, oil, butter and the lime zest until light and fluffy. Add egg and lime juice, and beat together to incorporate. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, pepitas, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mix and stir together well. Using a 2 oz ice cream scoop, or forming 3 tbsp (45ml) balls, drop the dough onto acookie sheet, leaving space in between for spreading. Flatten each slightly and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: A few days in the cookie jar and they are still good and chewy. Much less work that the usual rolled and cut sugar cookies.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Peek From My Window

The weather here has been beautiful for the past few days and the melt continues. Some are getting tired of waiting and have snow blowers out on the front lawn and back getting rid of the last bits of offending snow. Many are out washing cars, raking leaves left behind from last fall, and others are playing basketball in the driveway or having lemonade stands (like the little girls across the street from us.)

The kids are starting to show up at school in shorts already to play soccer during recess, and lots of kids are now riding their bikes to school.
The back yard is nearly free from snow and even I've been out cleaning up the flower beds after my mother commented on how completely neglected they were. I'm now closely watching my raspberries for signs of new spring shoots which I can move to better locations, and getting ready to split my primrose from my MIL which is now huge. Never done it before...but....what's the worst that could happen?
I've finally raked out the debris from the back corner of the yard with all kinds of ideas on what kinds of perennials I can stick back there. Now I just need to bring in some soil....hmmm it's beginning to sound like work already.
I love spring, when all the little plants are getting green and growing. My peony, primrose, ferns, iris, lilies, globe plant, flox, chives, rosemary, thyme, and strawberries are all showing signs of life. So far though no signs of any lily of the valley. And they said you couldn't get rid of liliy of the valley even if you wanted to. We'll wait a bit longer before we panic on that one. Well, I'm off to tea with the neighbour and then to the plant nursery to scope out what I might need for my garden this year. Hope your spring or fall as the case my going well too!