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  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Lemon, ,   

    Daring Bakers – 4th Challenge: Lemon Meringue Pie 

    Lemon Meringue PieMy baking activities abruptly fell off after the holidays. I realized that I simply can’t eat everything I bake, and so a lot of it goes to waste. As much as a lot of the challenges out there are enticing, I just can’t afford to address most of them. However, one I will never miss is the Daring Bakers challenge. This month’s recipe was a particularly refreshing one: Lemon Meringue Pie.

    Our  January hostess was Jen, from The Canadian Baker. I was thrilled I was going to get a chance to make a custard once more. After my Bostini massacre, I needed that boost in confidence, even though the recipe was quite different for this custard.

    As most DB recipes, this one was a multi-step process. To break it up, I prepared the pastry the night before and let it rest in the fridge overnight. We had done pâte brisée a few times in cooking school. The process of gently kneading the flour and butter together brings fond memories of Chef Tony reminding us the importance of safekeeping these pockets of butter amidst the flour. That’s what creates the flakiness of the crust. There is a particular expression used to describe this process: fraisage. I was happy with the resulting crust.

    The custard process was straightforward and reminded me of the freshness of lemon. I especially Lemon Meringue Pie sliceappreciated that this recipe did not leave any unused egg whites – they ended up in the meringue. Thanks to my mother’s gift of a gorgeous KitchenAid mixer, that was done in a snap. I had never sealed a pie with meringue before, but I just love the look of it.That’s a technique I’ll definitely use again.

    Another winner of a recipe!

     
    • Dolores 12:37 am on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Great job! I love the tales of your time with Chef Tony. And I’m with you on the egg whites… after the last few challenges I was growing weary of egg white omelettes. 🙂

    • sher 1:32 am on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Oh, I feel so inadequate! Your pie looks marvelous–the way you did the meringue is splendid.

    • Pixie 2:16 am on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Looks great, well done!

    • Rosa 3:26 am on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Your pie looks really great! Good job!

      Cheers,

      Rosa

    • Babeth 5:13 am on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      congratulations my “daring friend” your pie looks very yummy!!

    • Katia 7:18 am on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Hi, Your pie looks great! I like the circular design on the meringue.

    • Aparna 8:19 am on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Your pie looks good. I especially liked the design on the meringue, a nice change from the “hedgehoggy” look.:)

    • Amber 8:38 am on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Your pie looks wonderful. Congratulations on the sucessful challenge.

    • culinography 12:20 pm on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Looks wonderful! Great job on this month’s challenge!

    • Adriana 1:37 pm on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Excellent job!!! your pie it’s beatiful!!!

      Congratulations! 🙂

    • Tina 4:04 pm on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Great job!! I love the spiral of your meringue. It looks amazing!

    • Iisha 4:51 pm on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Looking great… good job.

      Iisha

    • breadchick 7:04 pm on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Nice job on your challenge! The right mixer sure helps with some tasks doesn’t it!!

    • Jess 12:35 am on January 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Nice swirls and lovely thick lemon curd

    • Big Boys Oven 1:39 am on January 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      such a huge pie…. we love it and not hate but adore it, well done!

    • Deborah 8:49 am on January 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Your pie looks wonderful! I love the swirls on your meringue.

    • Maryann 1:57 pm on January 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      The meringue spiral is hypnotizing me! haha. Great job you!

    • Kaykat 6:10 pm on January 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Yum! The lemon curd looks perfect!

    • Lisa 11:42 pm on January 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Looks great, good job 🙂

    • Ivonne 1:57 pm on January 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Well done! Your meringue is so nicely browned!

    • acupofjoy 12:24 am on January 31, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Your lemon curd looks lovely! Wonderful!

    • Jenny 6:00 am on January 31, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Your meringue swirl draws you in, saying EAT ME!! 🙂

    • Jen 10:57 am on January 31, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Great job on your LMP – it looks beautiful and the filling held up perfectly 🙂

    • Claire 6:38 pm on January 31, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Great swirly meringue. Glad you don’t skip out on the DB challenges. You just need to find a group of friends to be tasters for you…that’s what I do! (or family!) 🙂

    • Jessica 9:33 am on February 2, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Your meringue is so unique looking! Great job!

  • pixeltheatre 6:00 am on January 7, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Hotel Chocolat, truffles   

    And the winner is… 

    Sometime in early December, as I was perusing the Daring Bakers website, I noticed an ad on the site for a Pink Champagne Truffleschocolate competition hosted by Hotel Chocolat, a UK-based purveyor of fine chocolates. The deal was simple: Submit your favorite chocolate-based recipe and their panel would pick a winner.

    My all-time favorite and most acclaimed recipe is for Santa Fe Brownies, an unctuous concoction of 12 ounces of chocolate (bittersweet and semi-sweet) and cream cheese. I can’t quite recall how I got hold of this recipe. I believe my mom gave it to me, but she can’t remember where she got it from. It took me all of 2 minutes to copy my recipe onto the site’s registration and to submit it. Needless to say, I was dumbfounded when I received an email, from the marketing company behind the contest, telling me I had won! :0

    Shortly after Christmas, I received my prizes: a box of Pink Champagne Truffles and a copy of the 101 Best Loved  Chocolate Recipes Book. The truffles are to die for, and the book is chock-full of scrumptious recipes (chocolate pasta anyone?…). Thank you Hotel Chocolat! It was a very nice after-Christmas present.

    I baked Santa Fe Brownies while at my mother’s over the holidays. Our guests at Christmas all got to take a slab home. That recipe is definitely a winner in everyone’s book. Here’s the recipe. It’s a little-time consuming, but well worth the effort.

    Santa Fe BrowniesSanta Fe Brownies
    1 cup plus 1 teaspoon butter
    6 squares (6 ounces) unsweetened chocolate coarsely chopped
    6 squares (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
    1 _ cups all-purpose flour
    1 _ teaspoons baking powder
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    5 large eggs
    1 _ cups firmly packed brown sugar
    1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    1 _ cups walnuts, broken into large pieces

    Cream Cheese Mixture
    12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
    6 tablespoons butter, softened (no substitutions)
    1 _ teaspoons vanilla extract
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    3 large eggs

    Instructions :
    1.Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 13x 9 inch baking pan with foil.   Melt 1 teaspoon of the
    butter and brush the bottom and sides of the pan with it.  Melt the unsweetened
    chocolate, semisweet chocolate, and the remaining 1 cup of butter in top of a double
    boiler over simmering water.  Set mixture aside and cool slightly.

    2.  Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Beat the eggs in a
    large mixing bowl at medium speed until just blended.  Add the brown sugar, granulated
    sugar, and vanilla: beat just until smooth.  Beat in the chocolate mixture, then flour
    mixture, at low speed just until combined.  Reserve 2 1/4 cups batter.  Stir the walnuts
    into remaining batter in the mixing bowl.  Spread the batter in the prepared pan.

    3.  For Cream Cheese Mixture, beat the cream cheese and butter in a clean mixing bowl
    at medium speed until smooth.  Gradually beat in the vanilla and sugar until light and
    fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and beat just until
    smooth.  Spoon the mixture over the chocolate batter in prepared pan, spreading to
    edges to the pan.

    4.Stir reserved chocolate batter to soften.  Spoon the batter over the cream cheese
    layer.  With a knife, cut through batters in a zigzag pattern to marbleize slightly.  Bake 1
    hour 15 minutes , until toothpick inserted in center comes out barely clean.  (If the top
    browns too quickly during baking, cover the pan loosely with foil.)  Cool completely in the
    pan on a wire rack.  Invert onto a cookie sheet; gently lift off pan and remove foil.  Invert
    again, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

    5.  With a long, sharp knife, cut brownies into squares, then cut each quarter into 8
    squares.  (Can also be cut into slabs and frozen.) Makes 32.

    Enjoy!

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    • Annemarie 2:59 am on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Oh, well done! I think it was me who posted the contest. I never learned who the winner was for this contest so I’m pleased to hear it went to a worth candidate!

    • naomi 2:54 am on March 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Fantastic, well done! Those brownies look incredible!

  • pixeltheatre 6:23 pm on December 2, 2007 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , chain-letter, , meme, Q&A   

    Thanks for the meme-ories… 

    Received an invitation this morning from Julius, fellow Vancouverite and Daring Baker, to partake in aWinter day on Gore Street Q&A/meme/blog chain letter. The theme was, natch, food-related. With the weather being so inviting (see pic), I hunkered down inside to move this chain along.

    What were you cooking/baking ten years ago?
    I had recently moved to Vancouver 10 years ago and was living in a small apartment, sporting one of those tiny galley kitchen, with not much counter space. I don’t recall cooking much, or cooking very simply. I had a small tabletop barbecue on my balcony and, this being Vancouver, used that a lot throughout the year. I was not into my baking phase at that time either. I was traveling a lot for my job, taking and teaching night classes. Ramen, and derivative dishes, was often part of my diet…

    What were you cooking/baking one year ago?
    I had taken the Serious Foodie classes at NWCAV at the beginning of the year, which helped a lot with my confidence in the kitchen. (Little did I know at the time I would be enrolled in the Professional Diploma course a year later) I was now making gnocchi, risotto was a way to relax after work and I always had fresh tomato sauce to use on pasta or home-made pizza. I had started to bake once more, mostly cookies and mini cupcakes (see recipe below).

    The snack you enjoy the most:
    At this time of the year: mandarine oranges with cold smarties…But I’m not much of a snacker the rest of the time

    A culinary luxury you would indulge in if you were a millionaire:
    A small but complete commercial kitchen space; pastry course at the C.I.A.; a cooking vacation around the world.

    What do you bake the most?
    Home-made pizza

    Five recipes you know by heart:
    Shrimp risotto, tarte au sucre, linguine al vongole (baby clams), barbecued rack of lamb, buffalo chicken wings

    One thing you cannot/will not eat:
    I love dim sum, but I can’t bring myself to eat anything involving fish paste. The chicken claws are a close second…

    Favourite culinary toy:
    My Victorinox 8″ chef knife

    A must on your “last meal” menu:
    Lamb, barbecued either in rack format or shawarma or kebab, with tatziki.

    Happy food memories:
    My mom’s tourtière and ragoût de patte (pigs’ feet stew). Real Québec comfort food, ideal on a winter’s day (like today) …Which I will get to taste once more over the holidays…hum…

    Chocolate Mini Cupcakes

    Topping
    8 oz cream cheese
    ½ cup sugar + pinch of salt
    1 egg
    1 package (1 cup) mini chocolate chips

    Cream cream cheese and sugar. Add egg and mix well. Add chocolate chips.

    Cupcake
    1 – ½ cups flour
    1 cup sugar
    ¼ cup cocoa
    1 tsp baking soda
    ½ tsp salt

    Combine these five ingredients in a large bowl

    1 cup water
    ½ cup vegetable oil
    1 tbsp white vinegar
    1 tsp vanilla

    Combine these four ingredient well in a small bowl. Blend into dry ingredients. Mix well.

    Fill mini baking cups to ¾ and top with a dollop of the cream cheese mixture. Bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes. Freezes well.

     
    • Julius 9:43 pm on December 10, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Hi LizG,

      Thanks for writing out the meme.

      It’s always great to read about other fellow bloggers. Gotta try cold smarties and Mandarin oranges sometime. 🙂

      Julius

  • pixeltheatre 8:33 pm on November 8, 2007 Permalink | Reply  

    Back on the challenge track… 

    Now that the month of November is underway, so are the slew of new cooking and baking challenges around the Web. I completed the Daring Bakers November challenge yesterday, and it was a very nice one. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Watch this blog for results at the end of the month. Next up are the Retro Challenge #10: Story Book Food, and my first virtual blog cocktail party, hosted by the Happy Sorceress. The theme for this one is “Fusion” and must include both an appetizer and a cocktail/mocktail. The party is scheduled for November 17th.

     
  • pixeltheatre 9:44 pm on October 9, 2007 Permalink | Reply  

    Keeping the cooking fires going… 

    A challenge for any single home cook, intent on improving his/her skills in the kitchen, is often to find reasons to cook. Cooking for one is not terribly inspiring as times. There’s nothing like a challenge to get the creative juices, well, cooking! Luckily, there are plenty of sites and blogs to tickle any cook’s fancy and stir them into action. 😉

    I’ve recently joined the Daring Bakers group, and am now working on my first challenge, due on October 29th. Stay tuned to this blog for the results. There’s a certain level of secrecy involved with this group, but anyone can join. Just email one of the organizers listed at the link above. Once on board, members get access to the DB blog to post and comments on fellow bakers posts and pictures. To my delight, I also found on this blog a series of other cooking challenges. There’s something for everyone there.

    Tonight I decided to kill two birds with one stone by cooking Shrimp Saffron Risotto. I started with the Saffron Risotto with Grilled Shrimp recipe from the Food Network and adapted to what I had at hand. I was quite happy with the results.

    The challenges answered were for:

    Sunita’s World Blog, Think Spice…Think Saffron

    The Baker & The Curry maker Blog, Risotto Relay

    Next up…The Retro Recipe Challenge No. 9: The Candyman from the Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity blog.

    Stay tuned!

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    • Deborah 7:51 am on October 10, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      This looks like a lovely risotto! The risotto relay was what finally got me over my fear of cooking risotto – I made my first recently.

    • Sue 3:55 pm on October 10, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      It looks absolutely delicious. How was it ?

    • pixeltheatre 9:55 pm on October 10, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you, Deborah and Sue. It tasted great. It’s the first time I used saffron with this recipe. I’ll definitely keep using it in the future. 🙂

    • sunita 11:24 am on October 11, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Isn’t the Daring bakers a great group…I’m tackling my fourth challenge this month…before I digress, thanks you so much for your lovely entry..saffron does make a dish extra special, doesn’t it!

    • pixeltheatre 3:31 pm on October 11, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      I’m really looking forward to baking this month’s challenge, Sunita. Tomorrow will be the day. Check the DB blog for results…

      And yes, saffron is definitely a spice I’ll use again. I look forward to next month’s spice challenge.

      Cheers!

    • Zlamushka 11:20 am on October 22, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      I got here through Risotto relay round-up. Wonderful entry! What a great idea! I am gonna have to try this soon!

      Saffron and prawns… yum!

    • pixeltheatre 8:23 pm on October 22, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      It was quite the combination, Ziamushka. I would have never thought of combining both together, but now, it will be a mainstay.

      Thanks for your post. 🙂

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