Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Knitted Gifts

The holiday season is whipping up quite quickly!  This year as always......good intentions and  a fair bit of follow through.  I did manage a few knitting projects to pass on to unsuspecting friends and neighbours.  I've been waiting patiently for a special holiday knitting edition from Interweave Press to show up at my local magazine shop this year....but finally gave up.  Instead, I searched the internet to find which knitting books were new and interesting looking and then......I did a search for them in my local library.  I was pleased to find that they had what I was looking for and went to check them out.  One of my favourite finds this year has been Joelle Hoverson's 'More Last Minutes Gifts'.  The patterns were nicely organized into the time required to compete each project.  I found myself making two projects from the easy 2X2 rib hat (made three of them) , and some adorable pointy elf hats in pretty pinks and cream as well (made 5 of them...almost addictive).  In all I've made 10 hats in the last little while!  Oh and also as you can see in the photo above....I made the Hermione Cable Hat from the Charmed Knits Book.  Next I'm going to try the sock pattern from More Last Minute looks straight forward.....and a nice little project for the airplane......and as well I'm working on a little sweater for my son.....hopefully finished before Christmas.
If you are looking to make some last minute knitted gifts....see if you can find 'More Last Minute Gifts' in your library or book store....but if that's not possible here are some links to some free patterns that are quick and my opinion.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Daring Eggs Benedict

This month when the Daring Cook's proposed making Eggs Benedict.....I was pretty excited.  It was an opportunity to try poaching eggs directly in water which is something I've never before bothered to do.....and to make Hollandaise Sauce from scratch....something else I had never before bothered to do.  I can tell you that I was even more pleased with the results than ever I thought possible.  It was delicious.  And the most difficult part of the whole process was not licking the Hollandaise bowl clean when it was all done.  I did decrease the Hollandaise recipe a bit using two instead of three egg yolks and it was the perfect amount to make 5 eggs.  The recommended water temperature for poaching was 190F and again my handy Thermapen saved the day......I highly recommend them.  While this may have been one of the simplest may well be my most favourite as it had me try something I never was easier than I'd thought.....and it was far more delicious than I ever imagined.  So....I'll be trying this one again and again.
Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

Eggs Benedict
4 eggs (size is your choice)
2 English muffins*
4 slices of Canadian bacon/back bacon (or plain bacon if you prefer)
Chives, for garnish
Splash of vinegar (for poaching)
For the hollandaise (makes 1.5 cups):
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp. (5 ml) water
¼ tsp. (1 ¼ ml/1½ g) sugar
12 Tbl. (170 g/6 oz.) unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small pieces º
½ tsp. (2 ½ ml/3 g) kosher salt
2 tsp. (10 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
* for gluten free, use gluten free English muffins or bread of your choice
º for dairy free, use a dairy free margarine
1. Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer.
2. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and set aside.
3. Whisk egg yolks and 1 tsp. (5 ml) water in a mixing bowl large enough to sit on the saucepan without touching the water (or in top portion of a double boiler). Whisk for 1–2 minutes, until egg yolks lighten. Add the sugar and whisk 30 seconds more.
4. Place bowl on saucepan over simmering water and whisk steadily 3–5 minutes (it only took about 3 for me) until the yolks thicken to coat the back of a spoon.
5. Remove from heat (but let the water continue to simmer) and whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Move the bowl to the pan again as needed to melt the butter, making sure to whisk constantly.
6. Once all the butter is incorporated, remove from heat and whisk in the salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper (if using).
7. Keep the hollandaise warm while you poach your eggs in a thermos, carafe, or bowl that you’ve preheated with warm water.
8. If the water simmering in your pan has gotten too low, add enough so that you have 2–3 inches of water and bring back to a simmer.
9. Add salt and a splash of vinegar (any kind will do). I added about a tablespoon of vinegar to my small saucepan (about 3 cups of water/720 ml of water), but you may need more if you’re using a larger pan with more water.
10. Crack eggs directly into the very gently simmering water (or crack first into a bowl and gently drop into the water), making sure they’re separated. Cook for 3 minutes for a viscous but still runny yolk.
11. While waiting for the eggs, quickly fry the Canadian/back bacon and toast your English muffin.
12. Top each half of English muffin with a piece of bacon. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, draining well, and place on top of the bacon. Top with hollandaise and chopped chives, and enjoy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Month of Cookies-Whipped Matcha Shortbread Cookies-18

Christmas baking would not be complete without a little shortbread.  I have this recipe for whipped shortbread that I really love.  It is light from all the whipping and if you catch them before they brown......perfect in every way.  The trick is to catch them at the very first sign of browning.  With the addition of Match powder to the recipe this is a little more tricky than without due to the strong colour addition.  This batch is a hint more browned than I would like...following batches will be baked 1 minute less.  It can be tricky too using a cookie press as the temperature of the dough is critical.  Ideally you should bake one cookie to calculate out the required baking time before baking a whole sheet of cookies.....but as you can see I am lazy.  If your house is very warm, the dough can quite easily become too soft.  A few minutes in the fridge solves this problem however......and if you are finding it all too can just roll them in balls and flatten them with a fork.  I found the dough almost impossible to stop eating with the Matcha powder added....YUM.
Perfect Whipped Matcha Shortbread Trees
1 lb butter, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar (confectioners)
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup corn starch
2 1/2 Tbsp Matcha Powder
3 cups flour
Preheat oven to 350F.  Cream the softened butter, icing sugar, vanilla and salt until creamy.  Add matcha powder and mix in.  Add corn starch and beat in with electric mixer. Add in flour 1 cup at a time beating with electric mixer between additions.  Beat until fluffy....about 3-5 minutes with electric mixer.  Put dough in a cookie press and press desired shapes onto cold cookie sheet.  Bake about 5-7 minutes for cookie press shapes or longer if you are rolling and flattening balls of cookie dough.  Stop baking at the first hint of browning.  Let set two minutes on the cookie sheets before removing to wire racks to complete the cooling.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Month of Cookies-Fruit Cake Cookies-17

Now I know the idea of Fruit Cake does make some people groan.....I am one of those people.  ......but I had these cookies last year at a holiday get together and found them to be surprisingly delicious.  So much so that I was compelled to ask for the recipe.....which is something I don't do very often.  They are not overly fancy to look at, but do have some festive colour in them from the glazed fruit.  Even if you despise fruit might just love these as much as I do.  As an added bonus, they taste better after a few days....making them an excellent choice for gift giving! 
Fruit Cake Cookies
2 cups mixed glazed fruit
1 cup raisins
1 cup dates, chopped
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Combine first 5 ingredients and toss until fruit is coated in flour and all fruit pieces are separate.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and softened margarine until creamy.  Mix in eggs one at a time, then add vanilla and stir in.  Stir in baking soda, cinnamon, and finally the second amount of flour.  Pour the flour coated fruit into the creamed mixture and stir well to combine.  Drop in 1 1/2 tablespoon sized amounts onto nonstick cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes or until cookies are golden brown in spots.  Let sit on cookie sheet for a few minute before removing to a wire rack to completely cool.

Yeah Val!

Congratulations to Val with comment #45.  Have a look at her blog for some great crafting and a yummy recipe for potato boats!  Yeah Val!  Buy your self something nice for Christmas with your $65 gift code.  I will email you the information you'll be needing to use it. 

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Timestamp: 2010-12-10 00:13:36 UTC

Thanks to everyone for stopping by and playing!  It was interesting to learn your favourite Christmas foods!!