Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cinnamon Buns - week 5 of 52

I recently saw a TV ad for Pillsbury cinnamon buns and immediately thought "I could make those" - and have been proven wrong. I've always wanted to try making breads with yeast (vs something like banana bread using baking powder etc).

This recipe below, from the Canadian Living Cookbook, takes quite a bit of time (about 3 hrs in total because you have to allow the dough to rise, not once, but twice).

The dough didn't really rise as the recipe said it would - so not sure what went wrong (too much flour maybe?) End result, I got a good looking, a little chewy buns. Not really soft and doughy as I expected. A little more like tea biscuits than cinnamon buns.

I'm going to try yeast breads again this year for sure - not going to give up yet! Any advice?

Bon appétit!

Did you know - How yeast works (because I've always wondered)
•Yeast feeds on the starches in flour, producing carbon dioxide
•The carbon dioxide expands the gluten proteins in the flour
•The gluten proteins cause the dough (of which flour is a main ingredient) to expand and rise

Cinnamon Buns - makes 15 buns


¼ cup sugar
½ cup warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast (you can find this in the baking aisle at your grocery store)
½ cup milk
¼ cup butter
1 tsp salt
2 eggs beaten
4 cups flour (approx)

1 cup butter
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

1. Dissolve 1 tsp of the sugar in the warm water. Sprinkle in yeast; let stand for 10 minutes or until frothy. Meanwhile in a small saucepan, heat together milk, remaining sugar, butter and salt until butter is melted; let cool to lukewarm. In large bowl, combine eggs, milk mixture and yeast mixture.
2. With mixer, gradually beat in 1 ½ cups flour for 2 minutes or until smooth. With a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to soft slightly sticky dough. Turn out onto floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic, dusting with enough of the remaining flour to prevent sticking.
3. Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease all over. Cover with plastic wrap or tea towel and let rise in a warm draft-free place for 1 to 1 ½ hrs or until doubled in bulk and impression remains when fingertips are pressed into dough. Punch dough down.
4. Filling: In a saucepan over medium heat, melt ¾ cup of the butter with ¾ of the brown sugar; whisk until smooth. Pour into greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Combine remaining sugar and cinnamon.
5. Roll out dough to 18-x10-inch (45 x 25 cm) rectangle. Melt remaining butter; brush all but 1 tablespoon (15 mL) over dough. Leaving 1/2-inch (1 cm) border, sprinkle with remaining brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. Roll up from long side; brush with remaining butter. Cut into 12 pieces; place, cut side up, in prepared dish. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
6. Bake in 375°F (190°C) oven for about 25 minutes or until golden and buns sound hollow when tapped. Let cool on rack for 5 minutes. Invert onto large flat platter, scraping any remaining filling over top.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Coming soon!

"Florence February" - here we come! I am a huge fan of Tyler Florence. The month of February will be dedicated to recipes from Tyler's cookbook "Tyler's Ultimate" the book pictured in my profile. It is "brilliant simple food to make anytime". The recipes are simple, yet sophisticated and allow the flavours to really shine. Once you try some of his recipes you'll probably feel the same way! Tyler Florence, I heart you!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Homemade Marshmallows - week 4 of 52

I found this recipe from Alton Brown and decide it to give it a try. They were incredibly easy and the marshmallows tasted great – very fresh! Way better than store bought ones. The hardest part was waiting 4 hrs for them to set so I could have some. We put them in hot chocolate and made homemade smores – probably the best I’ve ever had!

For those of us who thought marshmallows were made with magic and mallow will be sadly disappointed – this week I found out that marshmallows are made with sugar, corn syrup, gelatin and water.

I’ve always wondered what went into these homemade marshmallows – they are pretty expensive at that high-end specialty kitchen store/gourmet food store (you know the one I’m talking about – the one with the half-price hot chocolate after Christmas).

The process is fairly simple – you will need a stand mixer and a candy thermometer. You boil water, sugar and corn syrup to 240⁰F throw that into a gelatin mixture a whip for 15 minutes. Then spread the whipped mixture onto a pan. Wait. Then wait some more. Cut and enjoy!

It is a little messy because icing sugar will get everywhere and once the marshmallow goo hardens it’s a little difficult to get off (but a soak in hot water will take care of that).

Kid approved: I gave some marshmallows to friends with kids and here are the reviews:
"These are the best marshmallows I’ve ever had in my whole entire life"

"These are even better than the REAL marshmallows" (I’m assuming they meant the Kraft ones)

Love it! Bon appétit!

Homemade Marshmallows - makes 100 small marshmallows


• 3 packages unflavored gelatin
• 1 cup ice cold water, divided
• 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar,
• 1 cup light corn syrup
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup icing sugar
• 1/2 cup cornstarch
• Nonstick spray (I used melted butter instead)

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping.

While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Some tips:

Work FAST – once the marshmallow goo stop whipping, if you wait too long to pour into the pan, the mixture will harden

Alton’s recipe makes fairly small marshmallows – if you want larger marshmallows I suggest putting into a 9 x 9 pan instead.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

California BLTs - week 3 of 52

This week I tried the California BLT sandwich from the Barefoot Contessa's cookbook I picked up on vacation - for the record, this may be one the best sandwiches I've EVER had anywhere. Period. I like BLTs but the avocado takes it to the next level! Bon appétit!

California BLT Sandwiches - makes 2



• 6 thick-cut slices smoked bacon
• 4 slices good white bread, cut 1/2-inch thick
• 4 tablespoons good mayonnaise
• 4 to 8 tender green lettuce leaves, washed and spun very dry
• 1 ripe Hass avocado
• 1/2 lemon, juiced
• 1 large ripe tomato, sliced 1/2-inch thick
• salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place a baking wire rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon on the rack in a single layer. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until the bacon is browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside. (You can also cook as directed on the package).

Place the bread slices on a sheet pan and toast them for 5 minutes. Turn the slices and toast for 1 more minute, until all the bread is evenly browned. Place 2 slices on a cutting board. Spread each slice with about 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise. Cover the slices with a layer of lettuce. Peel the avocado and slice it 1/2-inch thick. Toss the avocado slices gently with the lemon juice, and arrange on top of the lettuce leaves. Place 3 slices of bacon on top of each sandwich and then add a layer of tomato slices on top of the bacon. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
Spread each of the remaining 2 slices of toasted bread with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise and place, mayonnaise side down, on the sandwiches.

Cut in half and serve. Makes 2 sandwiches.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Coming soon!

Homemade marshmallows! Amazing reviews for Alton Brown's recipe on - s'mores and hot chocolate here we come!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Good eats!

I wanted to share one of my favourite foods of all time - Smoked Applewood Cheddar (aka bacon cheese among my friends). This is a cheddar from across the pond (England) tastes just like bacon - a great find!

I generally get my bacon cheese at Scheffler's at St Lawrence Market or at Alex Farms. Both will let you try before you buy - a good thing!

Bon appétit!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Butter Chicken - Week 2 of 52

This week’s recipe brings back memories of Queen’s University. The first time I had butter chicken I was at Curry Original in Kingston. I decided I needed to see how one of my favourite dishes is made.

This is Trish Magwood’s recipe and I have some changes. Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you off – all of the spices can be found at Bulk Barn. This is a much more affordable alternative than buying full jars of the spices, not knowing whether or not you may use them again. All of the spices below cost approx $1! As well, this recipe requires the chicken to be marinated (up to overnight).

Recipe tastes great and although takes a little bit of planning, is worth it!

Did you know – I decided to serve this with Patak's brand of pappadums (crispy lentil chips) which can be found in most ethnic sections of your grocery store. The package indicates “For best results, fry; you can also microwave”. When they say “for best results, fry” - they are not joking! I tried a test pappadum in the microwave and it left little raw/uncooked bits - read, not good. Frying was fun – the pappadums expand quite quickly – it takes approx 5 sec for it to expand and cook.

Did you know – Garam masala is from Hindi garam ("hot") and masala ("mixture") is a basic blend of ground spices common in Indian and other South Asian cuisine. Some common ingredients are black & white peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves, black cumin, cumin seeds, cinnamon; cardamom, nutmeg, star anise and coriander seeds.

Butter Chicken – Serves 4


• 1 cup (250 mL) yogurt, balkan style
• 1/4 cup (60 mL) lemon juice
• 2 teaspoons (10 mL) ground cumin
• 2 teaspoons (10 mL) ground coriander
• 2 teaspoons (10 mL) cayenne pepper, or to taste * I left this out
• 1 teaspoon (5 mL) garam masala
• 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) ground turmeric
• 2 tablespoons (10 mL) minced fresh garlic
• 1 tablespoon (15 mL) minced fresh ginger
• 2 teaspoons (10 mL) salt
• 3 pounds (1.5 kg) chicken thighs, boneless and skinless *I substituted 3 large chicken breasts, cut into chunks
• Fresh lime wedges
• 3 tablespoons (50mL) butter or ghee
• 1 cup (250 mL) cashews, ground to a paste *optional for those with nut allergies
• 1 medium onion, minced
• 1 teaspoon garam masala
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh tomato purée * I substituted half a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
• 1/2 cup (125 mL) heavy (35%) cream
• 1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh coriander, chopped roughly

1. Combine yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, cayenne, garam masala, turmeric, garlic, ginger and salt (to taste) in a medium bowl. In a re-sealable bag, add chicken and cover with yogurt marinade. Seal bag and toss to coat chicken. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
2. Preheat grill or oven to 400 degrees (200 Celsius). Cook until juices run clear, about 20-25 minutes. Finish with a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice. Set aside. Keep the juices, as these will go into the sauce.
3. In a high-sided sauté pan, heat butter or ghee over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic, garam masala and cook until fragrant. Add tomato purée and cashew paste, if using. Season with salt, stir and lower heat to a simmer. Add cream and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Use blender to puree until smooth.
4. Add the chicken and juices to sauce. Stir to coat chicken with sauce and simmer on low for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is fully warmed. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Serve it with basmati rice and naan (Indian flatbread) to soak up all the sauce or pappdums.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New and improved!

First off, thank you to everyone for their support! Everyone is really excited about my crazy little project (or perhaps excited about the prospect of free food)!

As this blogging thing is a work in progress, I have decided to add some new features:

Show me the money – all recipes will now include a rating to show approximately how much the recipe cost. $ = less than $10, $$ = less than $20, $$$ = less than $30 etc. The first recipe ended up being $$$$$ (yikes!) - future recipes will likely be much less!

Good eats – random blogs on some of my favourite food-related finds, whether it’s a favourite food, restaurant, meal or deal!

Coming soon – I will post the recipe that I will be attempting trying next week (or in the near future).

Bon appétit!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's - week 1 of 52

Inspired by the movie Julie/Julia and my love for all things food, I decided to try a food experiment in 2010. As a busy working girl in Toronto, I can only manage to try one new recipe a week and post pictures and recipe. The recipes will be tested on my friends who have bravely accepted to being my guinea pigs.

So, here’s to 2010 – a year of eating well, friends and food!

For New Year’s I decided to try to make an appetizer that I’ve had a couple of times – tuna tartare. How hard can it be? Recipe is courtesy of Rob Feenie. I made a couple of changes – instead of tamari, I substituted soy sauce and I left out cilantro. The avocado was mixed with the lemon, but I did not mix it with the tuna mixture.

To serve I put the avocado mix in the bottom of a round entremet ring (imagine a tall round cookie cutter to mold the mixture), and topped with the tuna mixture. I bought the ring at Golda’s Kitchen in Mississauga. Serve with tortilla chips and a dab of wasabi.

I have to say it turned out really well!

Enjoy and bon appetit!

Did you know : (stuff I learnt along the way) - Ponzu is a citrus-based sauce commonly used in Japanese cooking (not alcohol, as I initially thought). Ponzu is made by boiling mirin, rice vinegar, katsuobushi flakes (dried fermented tuna), and seaweed over medium heat. The liquid is cooled and then strained to remove the katsuobushi flakes and the juice of Japanese citrus fruits and sometimes also lemon are added.

Tuna Tartare - 8 appetizer-sized servings


• 1 Pound ahi tuna, cut into 1/4 inch dice

Tamari Vinaigrette
• 1/3 cup orange juice
• 1/3 cup rice vinegar
• 2 tablespoons tamari
• 1 tablespoon Ponzu sauce
• 1/4 cup sesame oil
• 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely, shredded
• 1 teaspoon toasted black sesame seeds
• 2 teaspoons finely chopped green onion
• 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch dice
• 2 tablespoons shredded nori
• 1 avocado
• 1/4 lemon
• tobiko
• daikon radish sprouts
• many of these ingredients can be found at Asian supermarkets such as T&T


Tamari Vinaigrette
1. Combine orange juice, vinegar, tamari, and ponzu sauce. Gradually whisk in sesame oil until emulsified. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
2. In a mixing bowl, just before you are ready to serve, combine tuna, cilantro, black sesame seeds, green onion and tomato dice. Add 4 tablespoons tamari vinaigrette and mix gently. Season with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add shredded nori and lemon zest and lemon juice. Peel, seed and dice avocado and and gently add to mix.

To Serve

1. On individual spoons, place a small amount of tuna tartare. Top with a little tobiko and garnish with daikon sprouts. Serve immediately.