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  • pixeltheatre 12:02 am on December 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: crème fraîche, , squash, vanilla   

    Recipes to Rival – 2nd Challenge: Squash Soup with Vanilla Crème Fraîche 

    This month’s challenge was perfectly timed for a cold and rainy November in the Pacific Northwest: soup. Our hostess was Meghan of Joy Through Cooking. Meghan chose a recipe from last season’s Top Chef show, Squash Soup with Vanilla Crème Fraîche. Top Chef is not a show I follow normally, but I had actually seen this episode, so it was neat to have a reference for it. This recipe was created by Andrew D’Ambrosi and Spike Mendelsohn, in response to a challenge where teams had to create a recipe using terms shouted out at an improv show: Yellow, Vanilla, Love. This recipe was the result.

    Following the recommendations from members on the forum, I roasted the squash the night before. The interesting twist to this recipe, for me, was the use of miso paste with the mirepoix. What a great flavour it added to the soup! The other nice touch was the vanilla crème fraîche. All in all, a recipe well worth trying. Great challenge, great results.

    Bring on December!!

  • pixeltheatre 12:02 am on November 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: caramel, cupcakes,   

    Daring Bakers 13th Challenge: Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting 

    We were back with sweet stuff in this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge. Our hosts were Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, with co-hosts, Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo, Jenny of Foray into Food  and finally Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go, for the gluten free version of the recipe. Dolores chose Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting, courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon, as posted on the Bay Area Bites Blog.

    I was happy to get the change to work with caramel again. My favorite ice cream topping is salted caramel sauce. I’ve made it a couple of times, but I still feel hesitant when working with it. It doesn’t take long before the desirably amber colour turns to dark brown, and you’ve burned your caramel. This time though, I was really happy with my caramel syrup. The colour and final consistency felt just right. The recipe made plenty more than what was needed for this recipe, which will give me a good excuse to make this recipe again.

    In the end I did cupcakes and mini cupcakes. I really liked the cake portion, not too heavy and not too moist. The frosting was quiet sweet, but a bit of extra salt helped. as with the syrup, there was some frosting left over. Well worth the investment in time!

    I can’t wait to see what the December challenge will be… 🙂

  • pixeltheatre 12:02 am on November 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Beef rendang, coconut milk, Malaysia,   

    Recipes to Rival – 1st Challenge: Beef Rendang 

    I’ve been looking for a savory version of the monthly Daring Bakers’ challenges for a while. Finally found it on, surprise, one of the DB’s forum threads. Founded by Temperance of High on the Hog and Lori of Lipsmacking Goodness, two DB members, Recipes to Rival launched in June 2008. The format is similar to DB challenges, with different hosts each month. October belonged to birthday girl, Rayrena, from Happy Cows. The inspiration came from a podcast she heard a couple of years ago on The Splendid Table that featured James Oseland, who is now the Editor in Chief of Saveur magazine.

    The recipe was straight forward and mostly involved a slow reduction of beef cubes in coconut milk infused with various traditional Malaysian ingredients: lemongrass, lime leaves, cloves, ginger, galangal, peppers. This gave me a good excuse to visit my favorite spice and exotic food store on Granville Island, South China Seas Trading Co.

    My dinner guest and I were very happy with the results. It was spicy yet creamy. I served it with some Thai sticky rice and pickled carrots and cucumbers. The recipe is available here.

    Looking forward to the November challenge!

  • pixeltheatre 12:02 am on October 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , pizza   

    Daring Bakers 12th Challenge: Bake Your Pizzas Like A Real Pizzaiolo! 

    This month’s challenge did not involve so much ingredients as technique. Hosted by Rosa’s Yummy Yums, we were tasked to reach new heights in our baking skills, literally. Peter Reinhart, author of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, was the inspiration behind the choice of recipe, with his Basic Pizza Dough. How hard can it be when the ingredients call for simple flour, water, salt, yeast, sugar and olive oil?… It wasn’t and resulted in a very nice pliable dough. Which was key to the next step: tossing it!

    Yep, we were supposed to toss this dough, not once but twice, for the challenge. After viewing the video, I thought, this can’t be too hard… It was. I managed to stretch it on my hands and kinda bounce it on my fists to stretch it. But I was afraid it would rip if I did more. I did not have much more luck with the second ball of dough, as it ripped. I had to roll that one in the end. Still the crusts turned out nice and crispy. I used a combination of tomato sauce and pesto sauce for the base, with salami/prosciutto, pepperoncinis and smoked mozzarella and blue cheese. We had no problem eating it at all. In fact, I nearly forgot to take a picture of the final product. :0 You get hungry after all that “tossing”…

    Here’s how the pros do it:

  • pixeltheatre 10:57 pm on September 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , lavash   

    Daring Bakers 11th Challenge: Lavash Crackers 

    We got a reprieve from sweet stuff in this month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge. Our hosts this time around were Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl. The challenge was a flatbread called lavash. The additional challenge was to keep everything, including the dip, vegan. It was a nice change to read through the recipe and see I already had all the ingredienst already on hand. A nice change as well was being able to print this recipe on one (1) page!! Something I had yet to see with a DB challenge. 🙂

    The lavash recipe was from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Everything was pretty straightforward. I used zataar as a topping as well as kosher salt and poppy seeds. I used a roasted red pepper dip as an accompaniement. I was happy with the results. Another keeper!

    • Joy 12:44 pm on September 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I love the look of those crackers – really authentic.

    • Lynn 3:10 pm on September 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Great job! The dip sounds really tasty too!

    • teaandscones 6:25 pm on September 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I love the curly edges on these nice thin crackers. They look really good. Great job.

    • Jorge 10:34 pm on September 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Wish u good luck for that competition..

    • Apron Straightjacket 7:07 pm on October 2, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Wonderful job. I love the texture in the surface!

  • pixeltheatre 12:02 am on July 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , filberts,   

    Daring Bakers – 9th Challenge: Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream 

    This month’s challenge, hosted by Chris (AKA Mele Cotte), gave us a chance to try another buttercream recipe. Although it sounded very much like the Opera Cake challenge of May, I was happy to try my hand at another layer cake since I had missed the May challenge.

    The Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream was picked from Great Cakes by Carole Walter. After printing the recipe, which came in at six (6) pages, I read it through. And again. And again. And again. This challenge came down to six (6) recipes:

    1 Filbert Genoise
    1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum limoncello
    1 recipe Praline Buttercream (buttercream + praline recipes)
    1 recipe Apricot berry Glaze
    1 recipe Ganache Glaze

    A first for me was the praline part of the praline buttercream. Luckily, I like filberts. I tried the method suggested to remove the skins from filberts (roasting the filberts, then rubbing the skins off with the help of a tea towel), without much success. I finally found unskinned nuts at Famous Foods, which is rapidly becoming my go-to store for all things baking. 

    I usually devote a single day to Daring Bakers challenges. This time around I thought I’d  break it up and do a bit each evening, since a lot of the components could be made in advance. By the third evening of prepping and doing dishes, however, I’d come to the conclusion I will return to the dedicated one-day schedule. I just wanted to get it done and over with.

    At the end of it all, I was somewhat happy with the results. My cake collapsed during cooling, but it gave me a new appreciation for the masking power of glaze and chocolate ganache ( 😉 ). Piping the praline buttercream became a reminder to go with the flow, as bits of praline kept getting stuck in my one-size-too-small piping tip. It’s amazing the life lessons that can be gleamed from a DB challenge…

    Bring on August!

    • Ann 9:01 am on July 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Nice work!

    • Lorrie 6:45 am on July 31, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      yes! ganache will cover anything! Your cake looks great 🙂

    • Lauren 9:12 am on August 3, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Your cake looks wonderful! Ganache is truly a secret weapon, I’m glad it served you well!

  • pixeltheatre 10:13 pm on June 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , cuisine, , nanaimo bar, , , sugar, sweet   

    Mmm…Canada – The Sweet Edition 

    Jennifer (The Domestic Goddess) is hosting this year the Mmm…Canada – The Sweet Edition. In 2005 she asked Canadian bloggers and non-bloggers to talk about their favorite meal, the one that really said Canada to them. This year she decided to up the ante:

    This year let’s make our proverbial pot a little bigger; a little sweeter, if you will. Let’s get together as many bloggers as we can to share their favourite Canadian confection, indulgence, dessert, sweet…anything really! As long as says Canada to you and you can get some sort of Sugar High from it, we want to know about it.

    As mentioned below in the Savoury Edition, I am Québec-born and bred. Quebecers are renowned for their sweet tooth. The dessert that most typifies this for me is Sugar Pie (with a name like that, how can you go wrong?). Tarte au sucre is one of those recipes that offers a lot of variations: maple sugar, brown sugar, flour, no flour, butter or not, cream, etc. Some families guard their version and pass it down generation to generation. I blogged on this last year. The full post can be found here.This entry is the most popular on my site, thanks to an incoming link from Wipedia. I never realized how many people were interested in this dessert…

    Here’s the recipe I usually use. It’s foolproof and quick to prepare.

    Quick Sugar Pie
    (Recipe: courtesy of Mme Paquin, Trois-Rivières)
    1 cup of brown sugar, packed
    1/2 cup whipping cream
    1 tablespoon flour

    Mix ingredients in bowl until smooth. Throw in a frozen pie crust and bake at 400F for 30 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream. It tastes even better cold, the day after.

    Now, living on the West Coast, my other favorite sugar high is provided by the Nanaimo Bar.  You can’t beat it for a quick pick-me-up in the afternoon (followed by the inevitable crash). Here’s a recipe from The City of Nanaimo’s website:

    Nanaimo Bar - Stephanie Spencer - Wikipedia Commons Nanaimo Bar Recipe
    Bottom Layer

    • ½ cup unsalted butter (European style cultured)
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • 5 tbsp. cocoa
      1 egg beaten
    • 1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
    • ½ c. finely chopped almonds
    • 1 cup coconut

    Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8″ x 8″ pan.
    Second Layer

    • ½ cup unsalted butter
    • 2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
    • 2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
    • 2 cups icing sugar

    Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.
    Third Layer

    • 4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
    • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

    Melt chocolate and butter overlow heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

    Note: This dessert/snack also comes in prepackaged mixes for the time-pressed.

    (Photo: Stephanie Spencer, Wikipedia Commons)

    • Jennifer 11:55 am on June 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Ah, sugar pie…very few things are more Canadian than that! Thanks so much for joining in on Mmm…Canada!

    • Candice 10:18 pm on June 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Last time I made sugar pie, it turned out a bit too runny. Next time I’m going to try your recipe! Thanks for sharing it. 🙂

    • madcapCupcake 7:56 am on July 2, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      TWO sweet delights – and both looks delcious 🙂

    • ileygilbert 7:11 pm on July 31, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      oh my gosh these all look amazing!

  • pixeltheatre 9:49 pm on June 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , cretons, french canadian, meat pie, , tourtiere   

    Invitation: Mmm…Canada – The Savory Edition 

    In early June I was invited by Jasmine (Confessions of a Cardamon Addict) to blog about “which savory dishes or drinks tastes like Canada to you?” This invitation was in anticipation of July 1st, Canada’s official birthday. It certainly was an interesting question, one I had often thought about, but usually in the context of: Does Canada really have a distinctive culture? Food is definitely part of a culture, I think. But as difficult it is to answer the culture question, the food angle is no easier.

    I was born and raised in Québec, predominantly in the french-canadian culture. I now live on the West Coast of Canada, in Vancouver, a city with distinct Asian and East-Asian culinary influences.  Though I absolutely love that cuisine, and consider it part of my heritage now, I have to admit the first thought and taste that came to me when I received the invitation was my mom’s meat pie (tourtière). I also “smelled” maple sap reducing in a cabane à sucre (sugar shack), and felt the soft, sweet texture of maple taffee on my tongue. All, really, childhood memories.

    Christmas time is a big cooking and baking period pretty much around the world. It’s no exception in Québec. Though my mom now lives in Toronto, I was really happy last Christmas to finally help her prepare a traditional dish, usually served in the winter: Ragoût de pâte de cochon (Pigs feet stew). I blogged about this here. Another traditional fare at that time of year is a type of quick paté called cretons.  It’s a nice little appetizer. Here’s the recipe:

    Cretons à l’ancienne

    Source : Jehane Benoît

    1 lb minced pork, lean
    1 cup milk
    1 cup bread crumbs (or dried bread, finely chopped)
    1 onion, finely chopped
    to taste, Salt
    to taste, Pepper
    to taste, cloves, grounded
    to taste, cinnamon, grounded

    Instructions :Mix all ingredients in a saucepan. Cover and cook for 1 hour on low heat. Stir once or twice during cooking time. Store in containers. Can be frozen.

    Thanks again, Jasmine, for this thought-provoking subject. Now, I wonder, to which cuisine will I turn to celebrate this July 1st?…

    • jasmine 4:24 pm on June 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Good post. I really enjoy reading about the treats that come from the Québecois kitchen.

      Thanks for participating!


    • Joanne at Frutto della Passione 2:15 am on July 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      It is amazing how many of us have talked about childhood memories in our posts for this event. I have never had your dish, but it looks and sounds very tempting! Thanks for sharing.

    • Liliana 10:03 am on July 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Mmm…I love cretons although I have never made it. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

      Happy Canada Day!

    • Christine 11:07 am on July 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Aaahhh the “sugar shack” smell. I can smell it now. We took our daughter for the first time this year, and hope to do it every year for a long time. I can smell it now. Happy Canada Day!

    • Hélène 6:43 pm on July 3, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Moi aussi je suis née au Québec et j’aime bien les cretons. Que c’est bon.

  • pixeltheatre 12:13 am on April 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , lollipops   

    Daring Bakers – 7th Challenge: Cheesecake Pops 

    Where has the month gone!… Back to working fulltime, my food blogging has come to a veritable stop, Cheesecake Popsthough I’ve been cooking and baking more than ever. 🙂

    This month’s challenge was hosted by Elle – Feeding My Enthusiasms and Deborah – Taste and Tell.
    The recipe involved making cheesecake and turning it into lollipops coated with chocolate. I decided to do half the recipe – the original calling for five (5) 8 oz bricks of cream cheese – way too much cheesecake to have around the house. Everything turned out fine. My baking time was more 1h15 hours than the 35 minutes called in the recipe. The consistency was really nice and silky, and a snap to do in the mixer, meaning this is a recipe I’ll definitely be turning to again. Though the process was simple, there was a lot of time involved in letting things cool, then freeze. I tried to form the balls using an ice cream scooper, which sort of worked. The resulting shapes weren’t the most delicate (or lollipop-like), but looked a bit better once coated with the chocolate. In retrospect, I should have slightly frozen the cheesecake before scooping.

    Thanks for the challenge, ladies! 🙂

    BTW, Daring Bakers now has a new website/Forum with a section open to anyone interested in baking and meeting DBers. More details here.There are now over 1,000 registered Daring Bakers!

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    • Rosa 1:12 am on April 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Great job! Those pops look delicious!



    • Dolores 1:41 am on April 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, I used a cookie scoop with pretty much the same results. I think par-freezing the cheesecake might be the solution.

    • Jerry 6:34 am on April 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply


    • marye 8:55 am on April 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Melted chocolate fixes nearly anything!

    • Susan 10:09 am on April 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Very nice. I agree about the freezing before scooping — I’m going to try that next time.

    • JennyBakes 4:55 pm on April 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I froze before scooping and mine still looked pretty messy. 🙂 Nice job on yours, you sound busy but you still fit it in!

    • Deborah 6:34 pm on April 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I’m glad you were able to fit the challenge in, despite your busy work schedule! They look great!

    • Molly W 10:08 pm on April 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Your pops do look yummy, even though I don’t like cheese cake. Isn’t it interesting how cookbook recipes have these little glitches, like needing to cook it twice as long. Makes you think.

    • Lucy V 1:38 am on April 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Beautiful looking cheesecake pops, despite the hassles with shaping them. When it comes to cooking times, I realized that my current oven cooks so much faster than my last oven that I have to check everything early! For the most part, I always consider a time in a recipe as an indication and never the rule.

    • Lisa 9:23 pm on April 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Yep, a good dip in chocolate makes ANYTHING look good – and when your talking about cheesecake – well the chocolate doesn’t have to work very hard 🙂

    • Tina 4:04 pm on April 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Great Job!! mine were messy either way hehe.. But they were great and your look wonderful!

  • pixeltheatre 10:45 pm on March 6, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Canstruction, Food Bank, Vancouver   

    Canstruction Vancouver 2008 

    I'm a Little Tea PotI checked up on the 2008 Edition of Canstruction Vancouver last Sunday at the Cruise Terminal. Now in its sixth year, this event raises much needed funds for the Greater Vancouver Foodbank. Designs were ingenious and colourful. Who knew so much could be done with a single can as a building block? Well worth the price of admission/donation.

    Picture: I’m a Little Tea Pot (Team: Brooks and Associates Inc, Walter Frand Architects, Studio Elemental Design
    5,400 cans)

    Slideshow here

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    • Julius 8:27 pm on March 9, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Wow, this is totally fascinating! Must attend next year. 🙂

      from Occasional Baker

    • Big Boys Oven 3:08 am on March 25, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      the construction looks awesome, the one i saw was made of biscuits!

    • pixeltheatre 11:06 am on March 25, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Biscuits? Wow, that I would have liked to see…

      Thanks for the post!

    • Ariane C 11:07 am on March 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I helped build this lovely teapot, along with the Brooks team. Was a wonderful experience; hope to be part of Canstruction again next year!

    • pixeltheatre 12:15 pm on March 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      You did a wonderful job, Ariane. It was my favorite piece at the show. 🙂

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