Sunday, January 31, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
I used some blue felted Melton cloth for the outside cut out exactly the size of the template, (it requires no seam allowance as its cut edges will not unravel) and lined the inside with a cotton print fabric which I cut 1/4 inch larger than the cardboard (or printed) template.
I placed the template down on the wrong side of the cotton fabric and turned the 1/4 inch seam allowance over the template and steamed it in place, making it the exact shape as the template....clipping curves.
Then I removed the template and placed the two fabrics wrong sides together and top stitched them together near the outside edge. (They should be exactly the same size now) At this point I added on some rick rack....because I like rick rack:).
To join the two short ends together, I just overlapped and top stitched in place. I have in the past joined the two ends using buttons and button holes like with this cozy.....but this one I just sewed together. Before assembling, I used some fabric applique and embroidery to decorate the front.
Can't get enough of those little birds.....I know I should really come up with something new! Another quick and easy project and a good little gift for teacher or friend:)
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Nanaimo Bar has got be one of the worlds most perfect foods. When they were announced for this month's bakers challenge.....I was tickled and a little perplexed. I was pretty excited to make them because I don't make them very often, although I do love them.......they are so easy to find here in the grocery stores and you are almost assured to find some at any luncheon you might attend......but perplexed that this unbaked dessert had been selected for a 'bakers challenge'. After reading further into the challenge, I discovered that the baking portion of the challenge was to be making the graham crackers from scratch......now it all made sense! Graham crackers are one of the most common staple snacks to have on hand for families with little kids. I myself don't keep them in the cupboard, probably because my mom never did. This challenge reminded me that I have on occasion eaten a lightly buttered graham cracker as a snack and they are good. I was well on my way to getting very excited about this challenge. The recipe provided has received great comments on it's goodness and I would encourage you to give it a try. I chose to use this recipe but substituted graham flour for the total amount of gluten free flours recommended. For me it really wouldn't be a graham cracker if I didn't use graham flour, and I was very very curious to see just how much better a homemade graham cracker might be than a store bought one. Plus I had all the flours necessary to make a traditional graham flour version. The recipe provided lacked the wheat germ and wheat bran which give graham crackers their distinctive flavour. If you happen to have wheat germ and wheat bran on hand (oddly enough I did) you can make your own graham flour as per the link above. In the future I would like to try the gluten free version to see if they actually taste like a graham cracker, as it did get very good feedback from other bakers.
Canadian cooking is certainly a tree with very broad roots, and it is wonderful that the span of these roots continues to grow and evolve. I'm certain that years from now the cooking which defines Canada will be even more varied. Off the top of my head, these are a few foods that strike me as being 'Canadian'. They may not all be 'distinctly Canadian' .....but if you are Canadian...you've likely had a good number of these or at the very least know what they are. Canadian cooking is very regional.
- Tourtiere (very good with gravy or ketchup)
- French Canadian Pea Soup (kicks ass on green pea any day)
- Fried Bannock (OMGoodness that stuff is good)
- Jiggs Dinner (an odd one....but super easy and quite tasty)
- Poutine (french fries and gravy...good already I know....well add some cheese curds)
- Wild Rice
- Ginger Beef (Alberta Style twice fried beef in a sweet and ginger spicy sauce)
- Matrimonial Slice (deceivingly good date and oatmeal squares)
- Butter Tarts (delicious straight out of the freezer)
- Persians (if you like cinnamon buns...these are even better)
- Flapper Pie
- Saskatoon Pie
- Sugar Pie
- Grand Pere au Syrop
- Figgy Duff
- Bloody Caesar (Bloody Mary doesn't stand a chance poor girl:( )
For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.
For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)
For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar
For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter
1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Ma Po Tofu
200-300g package of firm tofu
about 15 cm across piece of tenderized beef steak (the kind that's perforated)
1 1/2 Tbsp Soy Bean Paste
1 tsp garlic chili paste
1 inch cube ginger minced
3 Tbsp oil
2 tsp fermented black beans
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp tapioca or corn starch stirred into 1 tbsp cold water
1/4 tsp szechuan peppercorns, ground
2 tbsp scallion chopped
1/2 cup optional vegetables, (chopped peppers, carrots, peas)
You can make this with tenderized pork rather than beef if you prefer or omit the meat altogether.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Should you be intrigued enough by all this to try Marmite yourself (assuming you have not already) be prepared for the fact that it is a salty and savoury experience, and if that flavour combination is not your cuppa.......you may not be a fan. I was not so very worried to try it as I can and do eat canned anchovies left over from making Caesar Salad.......Not to worry though, if you find you don't care for it.....you can use it up flavouring soups, and stews........use it as you would any concentrated soup flavouring where its effects will be more subtle.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
It is far more common in my family to make Sate Chicken rather than Sate Beef, but in the interest of using up the large quantities of beef in the freezer and trying something different.....this time I opted to try Sate Beef. I pulled out a large sirloin steak from the freezer, let it half thaw.......then cut it into 1 1/4 inch wide chunks. I then turned each of these long chunks onto it's newly cut side and sliced down the length of each piece (across the grain) to cut the strip into 3 new thinner pieces. After mixing the marinade ingredients, I tossed them and the meat strips into a large ziploc bag and let them sit for the day.As sirloin is not a very tender piece of meat, I added a pinch of baking soda dissolved in a tbsp of water into the bag for the last 15 minutes and massaged the bag to get the baking soda evenly dispersed. If you are going to add baking soda (and leave it in the marinade) to tenderize meat you must use it sparingly and only for a short amount of time. You could also treat the meat with a baking soda solution, (use 1/2 tsp dissolved in 2 tbsp water per lb of meat) let sit 15-20 minutes then rinse and dry the meat before continuing with the marinade process....but it was just more convenient for me to add the last bit in at the end and leave it in. Again, when leaving baking soda in and not rinsing it out, you must be careful not to use too much or you may taste it........and also not to leave it too long as it only needs 15 minutes to do the job. Normally I would have treated the meat with the baking soda and rinsed it before continuing with the marinade....but this day I was pressed for time. This method also works well for treating tougher cuts for stir fry or kebabs.
This ended up being the perfect little something to bring along to the neighbours for New Years Eve. Want to take a minute to see some other Daring Cooks?.....If you'd like to try this recipe, here is what you need to do.
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 T ginger root, chopped (optional) (2 cm cubed)
2 T lemon juice (1 oz or 30 mls)
1 T soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp ground coriander (5 mls)
1 tsp ground cumin (5 mls)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric (2-2.5 mls)
2 T vegetable oil (or peanut or olive oil) (30 mls)
1 pound of pork (loin or shoulder cuts) (16 oz or 450g)
Feeling the need to make it more Thai? Try adding a dragon chili, an extra tablespoon of ginger root, and 1 tablespoon (0.5 oz or 15 mls) of fish sauce. (I keep some premature (still green) dragon chili peppers in the freezer for just such an occasion.)
1a. Cheater alert: If you have a food processor or blender, dump in everything except the pork and blend until smooth. Lacking a food processor, I prefer to chop my onions, garlic and ginger really fine then mix it all together in a medium to large bowl.
2a. Cut pork into 1 inch strips.
3a. Cover pork with marinade. You can place the pork into a bowl, cover/seal and chill, or place the whole lot of it into a ziplock bag, seal and chill.
4. If using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak your skewers in warm water for at least 20 minutes before preparing skewers.
5. Gently and slowly slide meat strips onto skewers. Discard leftover marinade.*
6. Broil or grill at 290°C/550° F (or pan fry on medium-high) for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just start to char. Flip and cook another 8-10 minutes.
* If you’re grilling or broiling, you could definitely brush once with extra marinade when you flip the skewers.Peanut Sauce
1 tsp Masaman Curry paste
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp peanut butter
3 tbsp tamarind juice
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp paprika
1tsp garlic powder
2 c coconut milk
4 tbsp crushed peanuts
Bring all to boil, stir 15 minutes on medium heat until liquid had reduced to 1 1/2 cups. Serve with sate chicken, pork or beef.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
1 cup beans (Yellow Eye Beans if you can find them....if not just white beans will do)
Soak these over night (or at least for 2 hours) with water covering them by 2 inches.
To the pot add,
1 minced onion
3 strips bacon finely chopped
1 tsp dry mustard
4 tbsp brown sugar
a few dashes of Hungarian paprika or (smoked paprika if you have it)
a few dashes of cayenne pepper
1/4 c ketchup
4 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp molasses
1 tsp beef soup base
Simmer until done (1-2 hours). I also added 2 tbsp of whiskey but it's not necessary. Cooking time varies with the freshness of the dried beans you can get. My mom grows and keeps her own beans to make this recipe and these beans have been kept for a very very long time now. I will have to get me some beans from mom and continue the tradition. Tastes better the following day.