Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wired, In More Ways Than One!

For the first time this year, it's finally felt like Spring outside! There have been warmer days, sure... but today was so clear and bright that the very thought of being inside the classroom was sheer torture. Add to that the oh so wonderful event that was my Accounting midterm (can we say... hire an accountant, Sarah?) and I could not get out of that building fast enough!

Of course, looking like Spring and acting like Spring are two very different things in this crazy world - we're still a good ways away from the "official" beer-drinkin' seedling-plantin' weekend that is the May 2-4, and just like last year we still have to wait before we can even start our seedlings! The comforting notion for our household is that after this weekend, we'll have three of the four Spring birthdays past us... it's always a benchmarker for us, because after my mom's, dad's, my own, and finally my sister's birthdays (and Easter, since it always falls somewhere down that line), nothing else is left in the way of that long weekend.

Speaking of birthdays, mine is this Saturday (but my fete menus are never any fun - my meals almost never are, but I will have a kick-butt cake again!) yet I still have failed to post the remainder of the other various baked goodies that have exited the kitchen over the past couple weeks. I'm really starting to wonder if I'm ever going to get back into this blogging groove again... gah! I hate trying to drag up inspiration when I have snippets of time, and not having the time to write when I'm inspired! Although, looking at the most recent sweepstakes giveaway at Chocolate Covered (Vegan) Katie's blog... hmm, that could be inspiring enough to do a whole slew of posts! Check it out if you like (amongst other things) chocolate, and peanut butter, and... oh yeah... chocolate!

This cake was the "office" rendition of my mom's birthday offering, and is a blessing for those of you who need that caffeine / sugar "pep" mid morning (or you know, afternoon, after dinner...). So far I think it's been one of the stars at the office. Mind you, give the poor people anything caffeine and sugar laced and they'll pretty much love you regardless of what it is - they've pretty much eaten every last crumb of what I've sent in, flop or not! What can I say... I think I keep them wired up enough to crave my offerings, even without adding illegal substances! At any rate, I was more than wired enough for everyone last week. My sister took this shot of me modelling my gorgeous Holter monitor that I was stuck with for 48 hours. I kept thinking Bride of Frankenstein, myself. But, thank God, it's now long gone (though unfortunately the allergic reaction welts from the tape still remain) and I can get on with avoiding the medical profession for another couple weeks.
In the meantime, I suppose I'll try to catch up on all the recipe documenting (promises, promises, I know) while trying to search out a good, opaque poured fondant recipe. You see, one of my final assignments has me doing a demonstration lab for my Communications class and I figured what could be more fun than a simple, Spring-themed cake decorating tutorial? I totally ripped off this idea from Martha in terms of the design, but really... who has time to come up with something easy to teach in 15 minutes, and who can beat the "domestic queen" anyway? The poured fondant would cover the cake squares to give an even base for the frosting decorations, so it doesn't have to look spectacular, just even and solid. So... if anyone has a good poured fondant recipe for petits fours, please please please let me know! I would greatly appreciate it.

Okay... cake time! I'm actually going to give you guys a "two-fer" in this post, though the other recipe photo got eaten by the evils of the delete key a while back. You'll just have to trust me that it's a good one, and pretty - I've been asked for two repeat performances already! But have your coffee now, I've made you wait long enough!

Cafe Au Lait Breakfast Cake
14 Slices
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (not instant)
3 tbsp hot chocolate beverage mix
1/2 tbsp instant coffee granules
3 tbsp canola oil

4 oz butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 block (6 oz) silken firm tofu (I use Mori-Nu lite), pureed
1 cup sour cream (full fat, s'il vous plaît!)
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp instant espresso powder
2 tbsp hot water
2 cups flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (1%) milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line a 9" springform pan (trust me, you want to line it!).
  2. Combine the dry "filling" ingredients in a small bowl until crumbly, adding a little water if necessary. Set aside.
  3. For cake, cream butter and sugar until light.
  4. Beat in tofu puree, sour cream and vanilla.
  5. Combine the instant espresso powder and hot water, stirring well. Add to the creamed mixture and beat thoroughly.
  6. In another bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt.
  7. In alternate additions with the milk, begin adding the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, blending well after each.
  8. Pour 1/2 the batter in the prepared springform pan, then sprinkle with 3/4 of the filling mixture.
  9. Top with remaining batter and crumble.
  10. Cover with foil and bake 80 minutes, or until tests done.
  11. Cool completely in the pan before releasing from the springform - it is very moist.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 286.5
Total Fat: 13.9 g
Cholesterol: 25.8 mg
Sodium: 78.7 mg
Total Carbs: 35.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.7 g
Protein: 5.3 g

This cake was made as a gift for my friend Georgiana's 50th birthday celebration - she loves pumpkin and coconut together! The coconut is in no way overbearing in this cake, but it adds a hint of richness that traditional pumpkin cakes lack. This cake is not a sweet one, and so leans toward the "adult" side of the palate. I frosted her birthday cake with a plain buttercream that I added coconut extract to, then covered the whole thing in unsweetened shredded coconut. It was a beauty, and a hit!
Pumpkin - Coconut Spice Cake
12 Slices
2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup water
5.3 oz creamed coconut (about one package - it's solid, not a coconut cream or milk)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp vinegar
1 cup canned pure pumpkin (not pie filling!)
  1. Heat the oven to 350F, grease 2 8" square pans.
  2. Mix the flours, white sugar, spice, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a medium saucepan, heat water to boiling.
  4. Stir in creamed coconut until smooth and rich-looking.
  5. Add brown sugar and simmer 1 - 2 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, stir in oil, vinegar and pumpkin.
  7. Pour warm pumpkin mixture (carefully!) into the dry ingredients, mixing lightly but thoroughly.
  8. Pour into prepared pans.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes, or until it springs back when touched and tests done with a skewer.
  10. Allow to cool completely in pans on a wire rack before frosting.
Amount Per Serving
 Calories: 388.2
Total Fat: 17.9 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 61.0 mg
Total Carbs: 54.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g
Protein: 4.5 g

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Maybe it's the Booze...

Have I ever been on time for anything a day in my life? Well, perhaps, but recently I've found myself lagging behind a lot more than usual! At least when it came to making this cake for my mom's birthday I was actually on time - I finished the "cake" part of the recipe on her very birthday! Never mind that it needed a good three days to age and mellow out - her party was the Sunday after, giving me ample time to prepare fillings and plan the decorations before putting it all together.

The filling and ganache went together beautifully, and the cake was assembled and glazed in a snap that morning! Even with the chilling needed after the ganache flood, it was done well before the guests were ready for it. Okay, okay, so I was finishing the cake as guests were beginning dinner... at least I finished it before dessert, right?

This would be the quintessential Guinness stout chocolate cake recipe that I'm sure you've seen around the blogging world for the past gazillion years (heck, I've even posted a variation before!). It resurfaces every St. Patty's day or so, and usually emerges in beautiful photos of elegantly frosted cupcakes, glossy glazed Bundts, snow-capped springform rounds and thinner, single layer cakes. A quick browse of the Food Blog Search tool comes up with a ton of recipe options, not to mention the variety on sites like Allrecipes and Epicurious and the printed version by Nigella Lawson!

I actually did use the Epicurious version as my baseline for this concoction, though based on various reviews on the site I heavily modified it - at the very least doing away with their ganache recipe and using my own version (with a mix of $25 worth of semi- and bitter-sweet chocolates, and lots of heavy cream!) along with making a cream cheese and cinnamon filling that set off the almost black cake perfectly. When it came time to do the decorations (at 4PM the day of the party, but nevermind that!) I fell victim to the convenience of the CakeMate tubes and store-bought sugarpaste flowers I had at my disposal. It's no secret around here that I loathe my piping bag and the cleaning that comes with it, so really in the end the tiny amount of frosting decoration I did was so not worth dragging it out!

Like I've mentioned before, this was actually one of four birthday cakes I put together in the past couple weeks. I'll share the others eventually as I steal bits and pieces of free time (and in the cake of my dad's, finish the darn thing! It's safe and sound in the freezer right now, tee hee). For now though, this cake is going to find a home at Poornima's blog Tasty Treats where there's an awesome event called For the Love of Chocolate!

Oh, and take it from a room full of people who fell into chocolate comas that evening at the table... a small piece will more than suffice.

St. Patty's Cake
Serves 24 generously
2 cups Guinness Stout
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened, Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups sour cream
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 cups icing (powdered) sugar
5 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
5 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, grease and line two 9" springform pans.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine Guinness with butter and bring to a simmer.
  3. Stir in brown sugar until blended, then add cocoa powder, whisking until mixture is smooth.
  4. Remove from heat and cool while preparing dry ingredients.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
  6. In another large bowl, beat eggs and sour cream well.
  7. Add slightly cooled beer mixture to eggs, beating just to combine.
  8. Add flour mixture and mix briefly with the beaters, then use a rubber spatula to fold the batter until completely combined.
  9. Bake cakes about 40-45 minutes, or until a tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean.
  10. Cool completely in tins before turning out, filling and frosting.
  1. Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and cinnamon.
  2. Begin adding the sugar to achieve the desired consistency for the filling (should be fairly sturdy but still easily spreadable).
  3. Spread entire amount of frosting over the bottom layer of cake, top with the remaining cake layer and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.


  1. Place the chocolate into a bowl.
  2. Place the cream in a saucepan over medium heat and bring just under the boil.
  3. Remove from heat and immediately pour over the chopped chocolate, stirring with a silicone spatula or whisk until smooth.
  4. Allow the ganache to cool 10-15 minutes before pouring over the (cold) cake - start at the center of the cake and work outward with a knife or spatula to cascade it over the sides.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 505.1
Total Fat: 26.8 g
Cholesterol: 95.5 mg
Sodium: 138.7 mg
Total Carbs: 63.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.2 g
Protein: 6.3 g

Ooh!! And and and... did you know that Ricki over at Diet, Dessert and Dogs is having a giveaway bonanza to celebrate her brand new (and gorgeous) site? She's got a nice big bottle of maple syrup (the real McCoy!) to give out and if you're like me in the T.O. area you can even win one of her cakes!! Check out her post here!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Blame it on the Fungi

Wow, I can honestly say I don't know of another blogger who has been as lazy as I've been with regards to regular posting! I'm not even a famous blogger, I don't have a book out or publish magazine articles - heck I don't even have a job - so it isn't like I can blame a hectic worklife these days. Nope, it's just been me and my napping in between catching up on everyone elses' blogging, trying to figure out my identity for a school assignment and baking a lot of birthday goodies (I've done four cakes for three birthdays in the past two weeks)! Now, with my mom away for business (and the rest of the family oh so helpful with maintaining basic levels of house cleanliness, I've been upgraded to part-time maid too. Of course you will get the recipes... in due course, since I have a most delicious pasta dinner to share with you first.

I'm going to pass this meal on to Presto Pasta Nights hosted this week by Aquadaze at Served with Love. And I promise that as soon as I can stay awake long enough to write a decent post, I will. For now, though, I have to resign myself to the land of glue sticks and markers!

I specified a couple brands in this recipe, just because I knew what particulars I used. Basically, though, anything goes! I bet for you meat-eaters some leftover cooked chicken or steak would work well.

Mushroom And Egg Pasta
Serves 1
2 oz Fiber Gourmet fettuccine pasta
250g assorted mushrooms (I had hedgehog, black trumpet and shiitakes), sliced
1 small sprig rosemary, stripped and leaves minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
100 mL Egg Creations egg substitute (or 2 eggs, beaten)
1 tbsp ketchup
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Boil pasta in a pot of salted water to al dente (about 5-7 minutes) and drain, set aside.
  2. In a large, non-stick frypan, heat a splash of water.
  3. Add mushrooms and cook over medium - high heat until reduced and beginning to brown, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add rosemary and garlic and cook until fragrant, adding a little water if necessary.
  5. Reduce heat to low.
  6. Add cooked pasta to the skillet, followed by the egg substitute and ketchup.
  7. Cook, stirring frequently, to coat the pasta and set the eggs, 2-3 minutes.
  8. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 240.0
Total Fat: 2.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 480.0 mg
Total Carbs: 51.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 25.0 g
Protein: 24.8 g

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Test of Our "Metal"!

Ah, yes... I am finally getting myself around to posting all the details from the wonderfully gaudy, edging-on-Food Network status, crazy Monday afternoon that was this year's Copper Chef competition! I actually wrote most of this post on FRIDAY, but since Blogger is oh-so-cooperative these days I wasn't able to upload any of my photos until this afternoon! (Does anybody know if Wordpress is any better, and if you're on FoodBuzz, was it easy to switch over? I don't want to mess up my contract with them!).

So, a group of three of us CAFPer's registered for this Copper Chef competitive event as one of the four schools competing (we were up against Ryerson, George Brown, and Guelph). As you know from my earlier whining opining, we had to write a menu of appetizer and main with a "sexy" theme. After menus and recipes were written (by yours truly, and riskily, I may add - I had never cooked a thing I wrote on the menu, and all my recipes were from scratch - not to mention I wouldn't be able to taste test and tweak) and submitted to the powers that be, our team (me and my two awesome friends Johana and Sabrina, who indulged me in this venture) convened at my house for a test run with Andrew as our awesome and adventuresome taste-tester!

With the exception of a few minor tweaks, mostly when it came to task division and garnish (thank you Sabrina for the ideas!), the recipes were a resounding success amongst all who partook in the eating! The girls took home portions of the leftovers and Andrew polished off his plate without hesitation, and even asked me if we could make the soup together the next weekend so he could have it all to himself. That didn't wind up happening, but as I catch up on the reams of recipes I've done since I was posting regularly you will see why!!

So, bouyed with all the good feelings of a job well done in the test kitchen, basic tasks and tips ingrained in our minds and all our uniforms pressed and packed with my arsenal of stuff, we headed down to Toronto's Delta Chelsea hotel and ventured into the (mostly) unknown!

This was the table of awesomeness that awaited us (surrounded, as you may note, by ever so subtle T-Fal product placements which were also our provided kitchen equipment and prizes... [and yes, the same, "wiped out" ones]). The amount of food was stunning, but not AS stunning as our secret ingredient was - if you can't see them well in this shot, take a look on my Flickr page! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the vegetarian's paradise that is exotic fungi awaited us as our secret ingredient! I won't lie, I squealed when I saw them - Black Trumpets, Shiitakes, Hen of the Woods and (my personal favourite) Hedgehog mushrooms were available to us in no small quantities!

The hour we were given to cook flew by, and was divided into appetizer / main timeframes designed to stagger all the schools' submissions to the judges, which definitely helped when it came to delivering hot food especially when we only had one burner! Thank God I a) remembered both my food processor and immersion blender (and if you make this recipe you will want at least the food pro unless you love grating carrots!) and b) the soup appetizer itself is pretty quick-cooking, as was our chicken entree. Actually, the veggies took the longest to cook, and only because we used the newest technology from the sponsor. While I'm not knocking the capability to fry things more healthfully, the ActiFry does take a longer time than stir-frying in a pan - our original idea (and still our preference). For French fries or anything you want to "stir-cook" without hawking over it, though... go at it. Apparently it's just as good for things like soup and risotto too.

As we were cooking, our team of supporters arrived and began the table rounds, stopping only briefly at our station to greet and cheer us on. Both my parents were there along with my grandma (Grandpa had offered to pick up my sister from school but had sent his luck along), and our Psych prof Stan from last semester (who I've waxed poetic about previously) came down with his friend too! Apparently his friend was only there for the free food - and he must have enjoyed our leftover veggies since he hardly offered anyone else the plate! Even our Nutrition professor Ami was there! Thanks everyone!

Presentation time fell to me... apparently I was the unofficial "head chef" of the operation! Fine by me, I can get creative! Playing up the whole "sexy" angle of the competition, I chose to have some fun with my soup's description by mentioning the particular shape of the base ingredient (carrot) and garnish (asparagus). I in fact spoke quite certainly of their phallic natures... and yes, I did use that word! Then the adjectives velvety, silky and creamy followed - sending the women into titters (oops!) and the men into a very interested state. Then, just because I couldn't have just left it at that, when one of the judges complimented the recipe I responded with "well, I served it to my fiance last night and I know he approved!". Sigh, could you tell it had been a long day??

In the end, the judges agreed with Andrew's palate! Though I didn't say for the dinner meeting (and subsequent awards ceremony), Johana called me the next morning to tell me that we won the food taste/texture category! Unfortunately, due to the prowess of the George Brown chef school students' plating ability, we lost the presentation and "People's Choice" areas to them. But second place - to a CHEF SCHOOL no less - I'll take that! As individual prizes, each of us scored an (ever so slightly used and dirty) electric fondue pot and a free apron. Officially, that is... after the cooking and judging were over and done with, we were clued in by our "Mentor Chef" (a sous at the Delta who got us a few extra goodies like awesome smoked paprika and our pre-requested but un-delivered flour!) that the leftovers on the ingredient island were ours for the picking! Oh. My. God. We left with more stuff than we brought - avocadoes, tomatoes, a big bag of salad mix, restaurant-grade flavour purees (I got an Ancho chili one), lemons, herbs, sour cream, yogurt, butter, bell peppers... oh yeah, and a half kilo of mushroomy goodness!!

So yeah - even though we didn't come out tops according to the official stats, I think we most definitely won what mattered. At the very least, we had a blast (and about a million requests for the recipes!).

As a nutrition student, my total caveat for all these beautiful recipes is this - they are not in any way diet food. This was a CHEF competition, after all, and as Ms. Deen, Mr. Batali and Ms. Garten all say, fat is flavour. But flavour... I dare you to tell me it's lacking!

Curried Carrot – Ginger Soup
Serves 4
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp flour
½ tbsp curry powder
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 ½ cups chicken broth
350 g carrots, grated
1 cup cream
½ tsp kosher salt (omit if salted butter)
¼ tsp black pepper
  1. Melt butter over medium heat.
  2. Stir in flour, curry powder, cinnamon and ginger.
  3. Cook until fragrant and thick, 2 – 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in chicken broth, followed by carrots, and bring to a simmer.
  5. Cook, stirring often, 15 minutes, until slightly reduced.
  6. Remove from heat.
  7. Slowly stir in cream, salt (if using) and pepper.
  8. Return to heat and warm through (do not let boil).

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 335.9
Total Fat: 29.0 g
Cholesterol: 97.7 mg
Sodium: 713.2 mg
Total Carbs: 13.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.6 g
Protein: 6.7 g

Sautéed Asparagus and Mushrooms in a Lemon – Thyme Butter
Serves 4
½ tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
6 oz asparagus spears, trimmed of woody ends and sliced on diagonal to 1” thick
2/3 lb button mushrooms, sliced
½ tbsp fresh thyme
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
½ tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Heat olive oil and butter together in a sauté pan until butter melts and is bubbling slightly.
  2. Add asparagus and cook 1 – 2 minutes, until bright green.
  3. Add mushrooms to the pan and toss lightly to mix.
  4. Continue to sauté 4 – 6 minutes, until mushrooms are browned and asparagus is tender.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 66.9
Total Fat: 4.9 g
Cholesterol: 7.6 mg
Sodium: 24.3 mg
Total Carbs: 4.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.8 g
Protein: 3.3 g

Paprika – Painted Chicken Breast
Serves 2
2 tsp olive oil
10 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, in 2 portions
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Lay chicken out on a board and sprinkle each side with salt and pepper.
  3. Place chicken in the pan and cook 10 minutes. Do not move the meat.
  4. After 6 minutes, flip chicken over and continue cooking (again without moving the meat) for a further 6-7 minutes, until no longer pink and 165F in the thickest part of the meat.
  5. Remove chicken to a plate, cover with foil and allow to rest 5 minutes.
  6. Slice each breast into 5 strips.
  7. Dip a (clean) paint or pastry brush into a small dish of paprika, tapping off excess.
  8. Dry – brush the cut side of each chicken slice with paprika.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 195.6
Total Fat: 6.3 g
Cholesterol: 82.2 mg
Sodium: 92.1 mg
Total Carbs: 0.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
Protein: 32.7 g

Pan – Grilled Bruschetta Pomodoro
Serves 4
1 large tomato, seeded and diced fine
¼ tsp lemon juice
½ tsp fresh thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 small bias-cut slices baguette bread
2 tsp olive oil
1 large clove garlic, halved

  1. Preheat a grill pan over high heat.
  2. Combine chopped tomato, lemon juice, thyme and seasoning in a small bowl, set aside.
  3. Lightly brush each side of the baguette slices with olive oil.
  4. Place slices on the grill pan and cook without moving 1 minute.
  5. Flip slices and cook one minute further, until toasty brown.
  6. Immediately rub one side of each slice with the cut side of garlic.
  7. Top each slice with equal amounts of the tomato mixture and serve immediately

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 117.1
Total Fat: 3.4 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 199.0 mg
Total Carbs: 18.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.5 g
Protein: 3.2 g

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Finally, the Bagel Bonanza!

I bet you thought I'd never get around to posting these bagel recipes, didn't you? Well, I'm taking advantage of the 1/2 hour gap between finishing my midterm English assignment and falling into a (hopefully) uninterrupted sleep to share the joy with you! Tomorrow I intend to find a gap between my Accounting term project, acupuncture appointment, birthday cake baking, bakery orders and more bagel making to tell you all about the awesome experience my friends and I had at the Copper Chef competition yesterday in downtown Toronto!

So, these bagels are both of the sweet persuasion, though the first batch I made are definitely more of the fruity-tart side of the spectrum. I'm always in the mood to use up the stuff lining our pantry, fridge and freezer shelves (just wait until you see the swag I got from CC!), so when it came time to replenish my mom's "rolls with holes" stash in our freezer I sought inspiration. I found it in a few oranges that had been bought while erroneously labeled as Blood Oranges, then discarded into the fruit crisper upon the discovery of their "true" nature - regular Florida Navels. No matter to me, their zest was still good, as was the juice! But what to pair with the light aroma and flavour of the citrus? Time for a pantry scan... revealing an almost full bag of dried cranberries and the dregs of Christmas' ground ginger. Excellent! Cranberry-Orange Bagels with Ginger it was.

Cranberry-Orange Bagels with Ginger
Makes 10 3.3oz bagels
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp sugar
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 cup orange juice
3 tbsp maple syrup
zest of 2 oranges
2 cups flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tbsp gluten flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp brown sugar
  1. Place the cranberries in a bowl, cover with boiling water and allow to sit 15 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
  2. Dissolve warm water and sugar in a large bowl (preferably a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook). Sprinkle over yeast and let stand 10 minutes, until foamy.
  3. Stir in cranberries, orange juice and maple syrup.
  4. Whisk together orange zest, flours, salt, and ginger.
  5. With the mixer running, begin adding the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, about 1/4 cup at a time.
  6. Knead for 5-10 minutes, until stiff but springy.
  7. Place into a greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover and let rise 2 hours.
  8. Punch down the dough, divide into 10 balls and let rest, covered, 10 minutes.
  9. Shape dough balls into rings, cover and rest again for 35 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water with the brown sugar to a boil and preheat the oven to 375F.
  11. Place the bagels, two at a time, into the boiling water and cook for 1 minute each side.
  12. Drain well, and place on lined baking sheets.
  13. Bake for 30 minutes and cool on a rack.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 224.3
Total Fat: 0.9 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 3.2 mg
Total Carbs: 47.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.9 g
Protein: 7.7 g

A few days after the cranberry bagels made their appearance, I found myself with another window of time that I couldn't bear to squander on the horrors of solid homework. I knew that the first batch of bagels were departing at an alarming rate - what can I say, my mom's a proud carb-o-phile! - so what better use of my time than to whip up a new batch of dough that could at least go through it's rises while I did a few hours of Accounting (or was it Global Citizenship? Wait... can anyone tell me what the heck either of these have to do with NUTRITION? But I digress...). I've had the fantasy of re-creating the "French Toast" flavour bagels we can get at The Great Canadian Bagel - but those are full of syrupy cinnamon-sugar pockets, with an eggy undertone that I can't quite place and it drives me nuts! I settled for making a "breakfast flavoured" bagel instead, and added buttermilk powder, brown sugar, the "breakfasty" spices of cinnamon and nutmeg and a dash of maple extract to the more or less standard dough. Because I needed to feed it anyways, a bit of my sourdough starter's "toss off" found it's way into the mix too. Even then, the dough was a lot stiffer than usual, and as you can see by my (salvaged!) photo I got very lazy with my shaping. No matter, they held up in the water bath and baked up nice, tanned and shiny!

Buttermilk Breakfast Bagels
Makes 10 4-oz bagels
1/4 cup warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup "old" sourdough starter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp maple extract
2 cups flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tbsp gluten flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp buttermilk powder
1 tbsp honey (for boiling)
  1. Combine warm water and yeast in a deep bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook. Let stand 10 minutes, until foamy.
  2. Stir in remaining warm water, sourdough starter, brown sugar and maple extract until well blended.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flours, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and buttermilk powder.
  4. With the mixer running, begin adding the flour mixture to the liquids.
  5. Knead until a smooth, stiff dough forms, about 10 minutes.
  6. Place into a greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover and let rise 2 hours.
  7. Punch down the dough, divide into 10 balls and let rest, covered, 10 minutes.
  8. Shape dough balls into rings, cover and rest again for 35 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water with the honey to a boil and preheat the oven to 375F.
  10. Place the bagels, two at a time, into the boiling water and cook for 1 minute each side.
  11. Drain well, and place on lined baking sheets.
  12. Bake for 30 minutes and cool on a rack.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 217.4
Total Fat: 0.9 g
Cholesterol: 1.0 mg
Sodium: 12.6 mg
Total Carbs: 45.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.0 g
Protein: 8.4 g

Both of these bagels are off on their journey to YeastSpotting at Susan's WildYeast blog!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Oh... I Hate That Feeling...

You guys will not believe what I just did. I go to upload some wonderful(ish) photos of the bagel awesomeness that I promised to share with you, and lo and behold I manage to delete my entire "Pictures" folder. All 1200-odd files. Poof. Thank God for the power of restore software... now I just have to wait another 15-20 minutes to resave everything! Not to mention the oh-so-fun amount of time it'll take to re-organize everything. I will preserve, though - never fear! I can think of it as a kind of "Spring Cleaning". I had been meaning to organize that thing for 6 months now!

The worst part about it is that I also lost the photos I just uploaded... including the shots of my friend's birthday cake and the cupcakes I just made! Thankfully everything is safe and sound (for now) on Flickr... but that cake was so pretty! You'll have to forgive me for posting the recipes sans photo a little later on... they really are winners.

So, fingers crossed for bagels tomorrow!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ending the Suspense

So, I succeeded in coming up with a menu and recipes for Monday's Copper Chef competition! Go me, oh yes... Not to mention the added bonus that my team managed to bum chef's whites off the hospitality department of the college and we've secured a time frame on Sunday at my place to test out the goodies! Andrew's pledged his palate for us on Sunday too, since he's stuck at work for the day of our competition - but my mom and grandma will be there at least, possibly my dad too, and my whole team's favourite professor's coming to watch us cook up a storm too! You guys are all so sweet, thanks for sharing your support!

So, do you want to know what we're going to be throwing down, Copper Chef style? Here we have it... and do feel free to marvel at the fancy-schmancy descriptors, too:

Curried Carrot – Ginger Soup
A velvety, luxurious puree of fresh carrots and a rich, fragrant curry cream is accented by robust ginger and sweet cinnamon

Paprika – Painted Chicken Breast
Lightly seasoned and pan seared before being dressed up with a dusting of sweet paprika “rouge”
served over

Sauteed Asparagus and Mushrooms in a Lemon – Thyme Butter
Crisp – tender, emerald spears of fresh Spring asparagus join rich, meaty slices of mushroom under a decadent blanket of herbed lemon butter
accompanied by
Pan – Grilled Bruschetta Pomodoro
Lightly grilled slices of fresh baguette are rubbed down with spicy garlic and adorned with a light, fresh tomato dice

So, are we hungry yet?? Once I get some photos (either after the practice run or the competition itself) I'll pass the recipes on too. They are definitely winners in my book - just hope the judges think so too!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Call for Help

Yes, dear readers, I am asking for your assistance yet again.
I can't figure out a good menu.

You see, a few of my friends and I are participating in the CAFP's Copper Chef contest, which is essentially an Iron Chef-fy competition that's held every year between school associations. The difference is that with this competition, there are only three team members and two courses for the hour. We have a few things given to us at our stations,

"T-fal Equipment and Butane Burner for each team will be provided (Fry, grill, sear, sauté, boil, poach, simmer, and warm cooking options), plate ware, bowls, base utensils/tongs and silverware."

But as you can see, no oven, and we have to supply our own gadgets and tools. This year's theme is "Simply Sexy Food", and we have a list of these ingredients at our disposal (sorry for the cut and paste).

Triple AAA Sirloin Beef Steaks ~8-10 oz each-Flanagan Foodservice
Chicken breast ~5 oz each-Flanagan Foodservice
Cocktail Shrimp-Cooked with Tails on
White Fish-Haddock or Halibut Fillets
Bacon- cooked slices
Eggs- uncooked, 6 per team
Chicken broth, Beef broth, and Roasted Red Pepper Puree-CAMPBELL’S

Sour cream
Plain Yogurt
KRAFT Various Cheese- Havarti slices, CRACKER BARREL Cheddar Medium Shredded, PHILADELPHIA Cream cheese, DELISSIO Shredded Asiago & Parmesan

Spring mix and Romaine lettuce
Fresh Spinach
Red & Yellow Onions
Fresh cloves of Garlic and Ginger
Fresh Assorted herbs to include: Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme, Cilantro, Basil, Chives, Oregano
Red & Green peppers
English cucumber
Tomatoes: Cherry or Grape, Plum & Beefeater
Potatoes-white, par cooked w skins on, (6 per team)

Chick Peas
Navel Oranges

KRAFT Dressings/Marinades/Sauces: RANCHER’s CHOICE, Citrus Peppercorn, Spicy Thai, Zesty Italian and NEW EVOO Balsamic
BULL’S-EYE GUINESS BBQ Sauce & Original BBQ Sauce
Dijon Mustard
Cider Vinegar

Marinara 4 x 1.8 kg pouch
Pesto 4x 1lb pouch
Sundried tomato pesto 4 x 1lb pouch
Demi Glace - concentrate 2 x 1.8kg pouch (reconstituted with 1.8 kg water)
White wine 4 x 1.8kg
Red wine 4 x 1.8kg

Kosher Salt
Black pepper
Flour A/P
Vegetable oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Dry spices- to include: Cinnamon, Cumin, Chili flakes, Cayenne, Curry, Thyme, Sesame Seeds
Cracker/Bread Crumbs
French Baguettes
Nacho chips
Pita Bread

I've got the soup recipe already (currried cream of gingered carrot) but I need a protein main / sides. Any ideas that can be prepped / cooked / plated and look sexy would be so appreciated ASAP!!

Thanks guys!!