It seems a bit out of character for me to not have complained about the weather yet, so I thought it fitting to say Sheesh! It's cold! We've already had our first snow (not that it lasted) and I have to remember that a corduroy jacket and summery scarf just isn't going to do the job when I go out. Kids don't seem to notice the cold, no matter what they are wearing, but on those long walks and chilly afternoons at the park, I'm reaching for my long underwear. Let It Snow!
What does that have to do with pavlova? Absolutely nothing, but then neither does this little tidbit..
We sold our house!
It looks like we will actually be moved and settled in a new place by Christmas. Joy to the World!
Not quite as joyful is the prospect of packing up this place; can someone please tell me how we managed to accumulate SO much stuff over the past few years?
Thankfully, Megan over at Simple Kids has inspired me to tackle the children's belongings step-by-step with her great series Winterize Within. Hey! Maybe I could wrap a bunch of stuff up and give it away as Christmas gifts. Just a thought.
On to the sweet stuff...
This cranberry- vanilla pavlova was one of my contributions to a lavish Thanksgiving dinner pot-luck we enjoyed with friends a few weekends ago. As I was looking over the photos I had managed to snap despite the chaos of about 25 bodies clamoring for dessert and Noah's meltdown because he WANTED THE BLUE PLATE, I realized this would make a pretty fitting Christmas dessert as well.
It's red & white, with billowing whipped cream that is reminiscent of snow, and cheery cranberries all over. Visually, it scores very high on the festive chart . Defiantly a recipe not limited to just Thanksgiving. Or maybe I'm just looking for an excuse to make it again. It was GOOD!
At the aforementioned diner party, Danny and I had conveniently seated ourselves within arms reach of the desserts. After one slice each of the decadent and very addicting cranberry pavlova, a very interesting conversation occurred over the consumption of the rest of the dessert.
"It's best eaten the day it is made"
"Yeah, we better enjoy another slice or two. You know, to help contribute to the consumption"
"I don't want to take any home."
"No way. It doesn't travel well. Here, just slide another sliver over."
"Serve me some too, it's so light and airy anyway."
"I know, and cranberries are like superfoods, right?"
"Right. Well, there's a bit left, but, you know, it goes all soggy in the fridge if you store it overnight."
"Eww. We wouldn't want that."
and so on and so forth, until, well, I'm a bit embarrassed to disclose what happened after that. You'll just have to make it for yourself and see how fast it disappears.
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, November 2007
FOR THE TOPPING
3 1/3 cups (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
FOR THE PAVLOVA
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Make the topping:
Combine cranberries, granulated sugar, and water in a saucepan. Using the tip of a paring knife, scrape vanilla seeds into pan, and toss in pod. Bring to a gentle simmer, and cook until cranberries are soft but have not burst, about 5 minutes. Let cool. Remove vanilla bean. Topping can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
2. Make the pavlova:
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an overturned bowl or a cake pan as a guide, trace a 10-inch circle onto parchment. Turn parchment over, marked side down.
3. Beat egg whites, cornstarch, salt, and vinegar with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add superfine sugar. Raise speed to medium-high, and beat until stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and gradually add confectioners' sugar. Raise speed to medium-high, and beat until very stiff, glossy peaks form, about 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
4. Using a rubber spatula or a large spoon, spread meringue into marked 10-inch circle on prepared baking sheet, forming a well in center.
5. Bake until outside is firm and bottom lifts easily off parchment, about 2 hours. (The inside should still be marshmallow soft.) Turn off oven and allow pavlova to remain inside until the oven cools. When cool, carefully remove from parchment. (Pavlova can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.)
6. Before serving, whisk cream until soft peaks form. Place meringue on a platter or cake stand. Spread cream in center of meringue. Spoon topping over cream.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Sue is hardly in need of an introduction; however, if you don't know her from her smart and unpretentious blog Foodie Suz, you may remember her from our tasty food tour of Montreal last August.
I think she's swell.
Place: Edmonton, Alberta
Occupation: Freelance writer
What is your earliest childhood food memory?
Spaghetti and meat sauce – made with stewing meat complete with a pig’s feet, allspice and bay leaves – made by my mom, who is half Italian.
What did you eat today?
Oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar for breakfast. Rice crackers with applewood smoked cheddar for lunch. Oh how I love applewood smoked cheddar! And Tuscan lemon chicken legs and tortellini for dinner. I stopped at Leva, my favourite Edmonton coffee shop for a latte later that evening and regretted it with insomnia later that night.
What are your kids never allowed to eat?
Nothing is forbidden food, but pop is saved for ‘parties’ only. I want to save their teeth!
What do you always have on hand in your fridge?
Lemons, lime, garlic, basil, Pom pomegranate juice for martinis, anchovy paste, capers, goat cheese and turkey pepperoni.
What is your beverage of choice?
Red wine – Syrah or Meritage. And chai.
If you could have dinner with anyone in the history of man, who would it be?
I campaigned for Obama in Virginia, so I’d have to say the man himself. He owes me, so he should pick up the tab.
OK, it’s your last meal ever, what do you have?
Pasta with Italian sausage and fennel made by my husband…a key lime pie made by my daughter, and a bag of chips and dip put out by my two boys. The food is about the love, always.
Thanks so much Sue! Take care of that sweet family of yours and start saving so Ella can go to culinary school...
Monday, October 19, 2009
As much as my dad encouraged my sister and I with our ethnic cooking experiments while we were growing up, I think he always secretly held a special place in his heart for all things British. Born in England to middle-class city folk, he grew up munching biscuits for tea and pudding for dessert. Although he gave us a cookbook entitled "Cooking Around the World", I imagine he much preferred classic feasts such as Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding for the way they reminded him of home, feasts similar to one I prepared recently...
If it wasn't for us buying half a cow from a local farmer, I probably wouldn't have roasted a chunk of beef all fall, nay, all winter; there just isn't much point in preparing roast beef for two people (and until the boys learn to properly appreciate good meat, they don't count). But when the butcher called me and asked what sizes I wanted my roasts, I started salivating, remembering the dinners of my youth; remembering Yorkshire Pudding...
What wonderful, crispy, eggy bites they are! Almost reminiscent enough of choux pastries to warrant filling with cream and dipping in chocolate. But instead they are popped piping hot out of the pan onto the dinner plate, cozied up between the beef and the mashed potatoes and doused in gravy.
Noah couldn't keep his hands off of them, stuffing one after another in his mouth, and asking for thirds with his mouth full. My dad used to tell us that if we were ever invited to dine with the Queen and we used bad table manners, she would order our heads to be chopped off.
She certainly wouldn't have been happy with Noah.
I may have been pleased that he was actually enjoying my cooking--if I wasn't feeling so guilty that I had never served my (newly) four-year-old Yorkshire Pudding. Have I taught him any appreciation for British cooking? I have to wonder.
At any rate, it was a ship-shape meal, one that I will be making variations on all winter long. Hey, I've got that freezer full of beef, remember?
In theory, the method is simple, but in the past I have not always be blessed with YP that rise beautifully and crisp up perfectly. After some Twitter q & a, I concluded the following:
- Ingredients must be at room temperature when they are mixed.
- The batter should be chilled after mixing for at least an hour before baking.
- Batter should be poured into a hot pan that has been well lubricated with hot grease.
- Since they will start to deflate as they cool, Yorkshire Pudding is best served warm from the oven.
- Cook should have some British ancestors (kidding!)
Makes 1 dozen.
Sift into a bowl:
7/8 cups of flour 1/2 tsp of salt
make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, into which pour
1/2 cup milk
Stir in the milk. Beat until fluffy
Beat them into the batter. Add:
1/2 cup water
Beat the batter well until large bubbles start to rise to the surface. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400F. Remove batter from fridge and beat well again. Generously butter 12 muffin tins and place in the oven until butter is sizzling. Remove pan from oven and pour batter into each cup. It should be about 5/8 inch high.
Bake for about 20 minutes.
Reduce heat to 250F and bake 10 minutes longer, or until golden brown. You may need to raise the pan to the top shelf of the oven to get a nice browning on the tops.
Rosemary & Dijon Roast Beef with Red Wine Jus
This is really just a very long name for what is one of the simplest main dishes around. In case you don't believe me, here's what I did:
1 3-4lb roast*, I used a Sirloin Point Roast
several springs of fresh rosemary
2 Tablespoons dijon, I used grainy
fresh black pepper
An hour prior to cooking, remove beef from fridge and pat dry with paper towel. Allow to sit at room temperature.This helps shorten the cooking time.
Preheat oven to 425F, I like to start my roast at a high temperature to sear it. Line a casserole or roasting pan with a wire rack (like a cookie cooling rack) and place the beef on it. Brush or rub mustard generously all over the meat and tuck rosemary sprigs into the sides by pushing them under the strings. Season with salt & pepper and place in oven.
After 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350F. Roast until the internal temperature reaches 125F. Remove from oven, tent with foil and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. This allows the juices to settle and the meat will be more tender. It will continue cooking as it rests and will reach the ideal internal temperature of 135-14oF (medium-rare).
Carve into thin slices and serve with Red Wine Jus.
Serves 4 with a few leftovers.
*Remember, cooking times will vary depending on the size, cut and quality of your beef.
Red Wine Jus
Now, pan gravy is obviously the best way to go, IF your roast actually produces any drippings; however, mine never do, especially not these lean, locally raised Angus yearlings and so here's what I do instead...
Oh, and since this is already an epic post, I'll add a word about the wine, because it was fabulous. I opted for a bottle of the California Collection from Beringer, a 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Super affordable, it rounded out the jus nicely and the remainder was superb with the meal.
There, your free wine tip of the day.
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 teaspoon dijon
1 package beef 'au jus' gravy mix ( I used Knorr)
1/4 cup chilled butter, cubed
The packaged gravy usually calls for 2 cups water, but we are replacing some of it with wine.
In a medium sauce pan, whisk together the wine, water, packaged gravy mix and dijon. If you did get some drippings from your roast, add those too.
Bring to a boil, whisking occasionally, until it thickens slightly. at this point you can take it off the heat until you are ready to carve your roast beef.
A minute or to before you are ready to serve, bring jus back to a low boil. Whisking constantly, add the butter, a few cubes at a time, until all the butter has been added. Continue stirring until jus takes on a glossy sheen. Season with pepper and pour into gravy jug.
Serve at once. Makes 2 cups
Saturday, October 17, 2009
UtHC is delighted to welcome Beth from CookiePie as a guest blogger for this post.
But of course, part of what makes UtHC a must-read is how welcoming it is, so that inspired me to submit these gingersnaps. What could be better on a cold, rainy autumn day (as it is here in NYC) than freshly baked gingersnaps warming up the kitchen and filling the apartment with the wonderful aroma of delicious spices and molasses? My husband, Mark, came home while I had one batch in the oven and my hands covered in dough as I scooped the next batch into balls and rolled them in sugar, and said, "Man, it smells good in here!" That made me smile.
I hope you'll try out these cookies on a day when you want to warm up your kitchen! I love them with a cup of tea or cocoa, but a glass of milk is always a good way to go (or some vanilla ice cream!). Enjoy!
By the way - this recipe is from my new cookbook, "You Made That Dessert?". Recently Aimée was kind enough to participate in an online book tour in which she made another recipes from my book: Geraldine's Chocolate-Date Cake .
Makes about 3 dozen
2 cups (8.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (10.5 ounces) sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line three rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper, and stir with a fork to combine.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat together the butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add the egg, molasses, and vanilla, then beat until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a flexible spatula. Beat again until the mixture is uniform. (The mixture may look curdled and separated at first, but don't worry; as you beat it, it will come together and turn a pale brown.)
Stop the mixer and add the flour mixture. Use a flexible spatula or wooden spoon to mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until a dough forms. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and stir well so that all of the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.
Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Use a small ice cream scoop or two teaspoons to scoop out pieces of dough and roll them, one at a time, in your palms to form balls that are about 1 1/2 inches wide. One at a time, roll the balls in the sugar until they're coated, then place the dough balls 2 inches apart on the baking sheets (don't crowd them-they will spread a lot). Use the bottom of a glass to lightly press the balls into discs.
Bake the cookies for 10 to 11 minutes, until lightly browned. Let them cool on the pans on wire racks for 5 minutes, then use a spatula to remove the gingersnaps and place them directly on the wire racks to cool completely.
If you like the recipes you've seen so far, pick up the book at your local bookstore, or online.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Pumpkins are everywhere! Everywhere, that is, except in my kitchen, where they are disappearing into the oven almost as soon as they arrive. Once taken from their roasting pan, they are mashed, creamed or blended up and disguised as all kinds of autumn treats.
Yesterday I slow cooked three of these gorgeous orange orbs with a sac of apples and some spices to make a succulent Pumpkin-Apple Butter with Vanilla Bean. Now I have 17 pretty jars lining my pantry shelf--mementos of fall and its produce. (Recipe to come)
I couldn't resist highlighting some other ways we like to enjoy pumpkin around here. These recipes are from a series I did last fall as a result of playing with pumpkin. Plenty of fun, plenty of treats--who needs Halloween?!
Pictures above is the oh-so-memorable Pumpkin Spice Cake. I've been dying for a good reason to make this cake again, but with all the pie leftover from Thanksgiving, we really don't need any more sweets. This recipe also makes killer cupcakes: moist, tender and spicy.
Wait a sec...I do have that cupcake event coming up soon. Maybe I'll get my chance to make Pumpkin Spice Cake after all.
Alright, some people loved this Pumpkin Pie Fudge, some people didn't. It's subjective to personal taste. What do you think? Are you a pumpkin pie fudge kind of person or not??
Everyone --my picky preschooler included!!-- loves these Pumpkin Muffins with Golden Raisins. They are Eat-Three-Muffins-During-A-Five-Minute-Photo-Shoot kind of good.
I've been saving the best (and the baddest) for last: Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies.
Ever since Deb's stunning photo's of these treats permanently imprinted themselves on my eyelids, I wasn't given relief until I actually made--and ate--them for myself.
Let me just say this: pumpkin and chocolate were made for each other.
Alright, now go lug home a pumpkin, get the biggest knife you've got to split the thing open and get cooking. I've provided some inspiration (hopefully!) and motivation (um, yummy treats, Hello), now you just have to get busy.
Watch out for the brownies, though, they make a pile of dishes. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
This wedding shower cake also answers to the name "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue"as it was in honour of my friend April, who is getting married in a few weeks.
Thanks to a series of house visits and random strangers tromping through my (spotless) kitchen, I found myself starting this cake at 8PM on a Saturday without much of a plan. As soon as the last potential buyer stepped out of the house, I whipped out the ingredients and was creaming butter and sugar with the speed of a Top Chef contestant during a quickfire.
The wedding shower brunch was the next morning and I needed a realistic plan that would allow me to get some sleep. So while the poppy-seed lemon cakes baked and cooled, I made the lemon curd and the buttercream, and debated over using rolled fondant for the finish. Around 10PM the cakes were frosted and ready to be decorated--the only trouble was, I was losing steam fast. Normally I'm pretty hard core, but as I looked over at the kit for making sugar paste flowers (bought especially for this cake), all desire to start handcrafting flower petals vanished.
At that exact moment,as fate would have it, I opened a cupboard and a tin fell out onto my workspace. Inside were three perfectly crafted white sugar roses, carefully preserved from my mother-in-law's wedding cake (not made by me) and long forgotten about. I took the discovery as a sign that I should borrow them for April's cake--wait...Borrow...wasn't that something to do with weddings? And poppy seeds are old, right? Lemons can be new...I just needed something blue.
I ended up dying a chunk of rolled fondant a soft blue and rolling it into little 'beads'. I dusted them in sanding sugar and voila, my cake was decorated in about 10 minutes with an appropriate wedding shower theme.
To conclude:The bride loved her cake and everyone lived happily ever after. I don't think I've never seen a cake eaten so fast, right down to the last poppy-seed.
The recipe is definitely a keeper: a soft butter cake, subtly flavored with lemon extract and zest and interspersed with not-too-many poppy seeds. There's a thin layer of lemon curd between the layers and the whole creation is wrapped with a very tasty lemon buttercream and makes for a slice of cake that leaves nothing to be desired.
This recipe is for a 9 inch round layer cake and serves 12 people.
Poppy-seed Lemon Butter Cake
yields two 9-inch round cakes
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon lemon extract
zest of 1 large lemon
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter parchment, and dust with flour, tapping out excess; set aside. Into a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in lemon extract and zest.With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined after each addition. Fold in poppy seeds.
3. Divide batter between the prepared pans, and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until cakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto the rack; peel off the parchment. Re-invert cakes and let them cool completely, top sides up.
Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes about 4 cups, perfect for this cake.
4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
3/4 cup lemon curd (recipe below)
In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. If frosting appears to have separated after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again.
(Aimée's Note: I do this every time. It brings the buttercream from a runny whipped cream consistency, to a thick frosting consistency. I prefer to work with it like this!)
Beat on low speed to eliminate any air bubbles. Stir in lemon curd with a spatula until smooth. Frosting is now ready to use or it may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days. Before using, bring to room temperature.
I love this lemon curd recipe. It requires you to make it with the zest of the lemon, but at the end the zest is strained out through a fine sieve. This imparts the maximum lemon flavor, but the curd still has a silky smooth consistency. Mmm.
Makes 1 cup--enough for the buttercream with enough leftover for a thin layer between the cakes..
4 large egg yolks
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
1/2 cup sugar
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
Prepare an ice bath fitted with a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk together yolks, zest, juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Set over medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon, 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove pan from heat.
Add butter, 1 piece at a time, stirring until incorporated. Pass through a fine mesh sieve into prepared medium bowl. Stirring frequently, let stand until cool.
Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on surface of curd to prevent skin from forming; wrap tightly. Refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Place one poppy seed cake onto a platter or cake stand. Spread about 1/4 cup of lemon curd over it and top with second cake layer. Frost with lemon buttercream and smooth sides. Decorate as desired.
To my fellow Canadians: Have a wonderful Thanksgiving long weekend!
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
For starters, can we just take a minute to acknowledge the always-inspiring Gourmet Magazine and its immeasurable contribution to the culinary world?
Shocked and saddened were two words that popped up the most on Twitter this morning when news spread that the magazine was folding. It certainly impacted my day.
It will be missed.
Submissions have been streaming in for the UtHC Virtual Jam Swap and the good news is that if you haven't yet submitted your entry to the swap, you still have a few weeks to do so!
It's easy to enter:
- Can it--jam or jelly, you decide.
- Post it--on your blog or website
- Link it-- link to this post
- Email it- send me the link & a photo
I had to pinch myself after reading a few of the other names that I found myself in the same category with: @BonnieStern, @coreymintz and *gulp* @lucywaverman.
"More deliciousness from Montreal." NP said of my tweeting, which was nice to hear but left me feeling even more guilty over a certain rant on Twitter that occurred a few weeks ago.
Note to self: stick to food and the occasional mothering topics on Twitter--that's why nearly 1000 people are following.
You can join in the fun by joining Twitter and following me here. If you enjoy reading UtHC, chances are you'll love my latest obsession as it's really a micro-blogging extension of UtHC.
Alright, just in case you've been listening to the rumors out there, yes, it is true that there is a new project in the works for me. Not necessarily for UtHC, but more for Aimee.
It involves food-- which kinda goes without saying-- the Internet and writing. What else can I tell you about it? Not too much just yet, but I can say that it's going to be pret-ty darn exciting when it launches in early 2010.
Stat tuned for details. You'll hear about it here first, I promise.