Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ginger Rhubarb Loaf

Ginger Rhubarb Loaf
Originally uploaded by wanderingcoyote.

In order to feel like I accomplished something yesterday, I decided to bake this. The day before, the neighbour came over with a the season's first rhubarb. I chopped it up and froze most of it, keeping a cup back for this loaf. I'd been craving something like pound cake, but I didn't have enough eggs on hand for that. After a search through all my recipes, I decided to go with the Cardamom Loaf recipe from about a year ago. You can find it here. A few simple substitutions, and voila.

The substitutions are as follows:

- instead of 2 tsp cardamom, I used 2 tsp ginger
- I added 1 cup finely chopped rhubarb. The rhubarb was in a freezer bag, and I added to it 2 additional tbsp of sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tbsp flour. You can can combined the rhubarb and these ingredients in a bowl, too. I would try to use fresh rhubarb rather than frozen because as frozen rhubarb thaws, it goes all mushy and loses its shape. Make sure the rhubarb is cut small; the bigger the pieces, the more risk you run of having raw spots in the loaf, because fruit gives off liquid as it bakes and that can impede proper baking.
- I found I needed an additional 1/3 cup of milk for some reason; play it by ear. You don't want too liquidy a batter, nor too stiff a batter.
- I baked this in a metal loaf pan in a convection oven at 325F, and it turned out fine. If you use a glass pan, decrease the temperature by 25 degrees or so. In a regular oven, you can bake this at 325F or 350F.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Trifle Made Easy

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle
Originally uploaded by wanderingcoyote.

Today my brother and his girlfriend are hosting a post-Easter pot luck dinner, and I got elected to bring dessert. I awoke with energy this morning. Yesterday I was thinking of bailing on the pot luck because I felt magnatized to my bed, but this morning I felt great and was super productive. I decided to give the pot luck a go, and decided that a trifle would be an easy thing to take to dinner.

My maternal grandmother made the most awesome trifle. She bought a jelly roll from the grocery store and sliced it, lined a trifle bowl with the slices, and then added liquid jello. She put this in the fridge overnight to set and then added a layer of custard (Bird's) and lastly a layer of whipped cream. It was quite heavenly. I made it for a Christmas dinner several years ago and it was a big hit.

Since then, I've discovered that the sky's the limit with trifle. Originally, it was designed to use up stale cake/pastry pieces. You added some fruit, custard, whipped cream, and Bob was your uncle. I prefer to use fresh ingredients, and have evolved beyond jello by using fresh berries.

A note about bowls, before we go much further. Obviously, since a trifle involves layers, you want to show those layers off in a glass bowl. I own a beautiful footed trifle bowl that makes a stunning presentation, but alas it is in Ottawa still, pending shipping when a friend of mine moves out west next month. If you can, get creative. There are some vases I've seen that would make stunning trifle bowls - again, the sky's the limit. The bowl in the above picture is a glass salad bowl. Use what you have on hand, and if you don't have a glass bowl don't worry. The trifle will speak for itself as it is consumed!

The Components

You'll need:

- 1 8" layer of sponge cake, cubed, of your choice (the recipe I use follows),or a few cups of cubed pound cake, or a few cups of angel food cake. Again, use your imagination and preferences as a guide. You need enough cubed sponge to line the bottom of your trifle bowl and make a thick layer. You don't want too thin a layer of sponge because this is the base. I'd say, on average, depending on the size of your bowl, the bottom sponge layer should be about a quarter of the bowl.
- 1 box Jello vanilla pudding, yielding approx. 2 cups. Yes, this might seem like cheating to you, but let me tell you, this tastes way, way better than Bird's custard and it's way cheaper and far quicker and easier than making a homemade pastry cream.
- Fresh berries of your choice, or a medly of berries. Two cups minimum, again depending on the size of your trifle bowl, and more if you wish to garnish the top of your trifle with the berries. This trifle I just made used one pound of strawberries.
- 1 cup whipped cream, minimum (again, this is dependent upon your bowl) sweetened, whipped to soft peaks
- chocolate shavings, or other suitable garnish - get creative. I used a chocolate bunny left over from Easter and took my vegetable peeler to it to get the shavings.


Once you've put your sponge in the bottom of your bowl, you may wish to sprinkle it with some sort of booze. Sherry is traditional. You don't have to, especially if you have a nice moist cake. If you're using something day old or that's been in the freezer a while, you may want to hydrate the sponge with some type of booze or simple syrup (a 50/50 combination of water and sugar, brought to a boil for a few minutes, then cooled - a staple in the pastry kitchen let me tell you), or even a fruit syrup from tinned fruit.

Make up the pudding and whisk it until thoroughly combined. Pour over the sponge. Put the berries in next.

Again, depending on the size of your bowl, you can either add another, thinner, layer of cubed sponge or just proceed to the whipped cream stage. In the trife I just made, I added a second layer of sponge because I could.

Spread your whipped cream smooth on top of the trifle, and garnish as you want. You can do whatever you want on the top, really. You can pipe whipped cream if you're feeling adventurous and have the equipment, or you can do a fruit arrangement as I did.

Simple, eh?

The Sponge

This recipe came from the Dieticians of Canada cookbook, and is called Lazy Daizy Cake. It's an excellent recipe and is very versatile.

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
- beat until light and fluffy

1 cup flour
pinch salt
1 tsp baking powder
- combine

1/2 cup milk, scalded
2 tsp butter, melted in the milk

Add the flour and milk in alternate additions, with three of flour and two of milk. Combine until just mixed.

Pour batter into prepared 8" round or square cake pan. Bake at 350F for 35 minutes, or until tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool completely.


Enjoy the trifle, and enjoy the compliments you'll get when serving it!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Thai Chicken Curry Soup

Chicken Stock
Originally uploaded by wanderingcoyote.

I've been feeling super crappy lately. For more details, see my Wandering Coyote blog. I felt like some comfort food, and I had the energy to be creative. I also had on hand some pantry items I wanted to use up. So, I made this soup.

I usually make my own chicken stock. This one was made using a chicken carcass from a while back that I'd frozen. I usually save a leg or two and the wings so there's enough meat in the soup, but in this case, I added two chicken thighs since the people that helped me eat the roasted chicken also consumed both legs and one wing. Well, I would have been a poor hostess to refuse them, wouldn't I?

I used the method outlined in this post, only with a carcass as opposed to actual cuts of meat, you should simmer the stock much longer to get the maximum amount of flavour. In this case, it was 41/2 hours. I used, as aromatics: 2 small leeks, 2 small carrots (unpeeled but washed), several cloves of whole garlic, two quarter sections of a lemon (I knew this soup would be Thai-inspired, so I used the lemons instead of lemongrass), a bunch of whole peppercorns, and 2 quarter-sized rounds of ginger. Later on in the cooking process, I added 2 chicken thighs and a handful of cilantro - whole, not cut up and with stems. I added salt to taste, and voila.

Thai Chicken Curry Soup

The above made about 4 cups of stock, and that's what you'll need for this recipe. In addition (if this looks like deja vu to some of you, you're not crazy; similar ingredients are found in my Thai curry recipe from nearly a year ago):

- 1 can coconut milk (398mL)
- about 3-4 cups of veggies of your choice; I used cauliflower cut up small, 2 julienned carrots, 10 large mushrooms, sliced, and a can of whole baby corn, quartered
- 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp Thai red curry paste, or to taste (you can substitute other curry pastes)
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 - 3 tbsp sugar, or to taste (add it in 1 tsp at a time so you can adjust it easily)
- 1/3 cup rice
- 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 tsp minced ginger
- 1 cup chopped cilantro

Once I'd taken the meat of the chicken bones and strained my stock, I added the rice and brought it to a boil. I added the chicken and turned the heat down to a low simmer. I added the veg all at once with the ginger. Then I mixed the curry paste, fish sauce, and sugar together and added it to the soup, followed by the garlic. I added the coconut milk last. Then I added about a cup of chopped cilantro. I had to add sugar to it to balance out the flavour.

The smell alone was like an elixir from the heavens! It tasted awesome and looks just lovely, too. I am going to put it in containers to freeze and keep a bit out for lunches this week.

I'm glad I took the time to do this today. Creating a delicious new recipe was just what my weary soul needed.

Thai Chicken Curry Soup
Originally uploaded by wanderingcoyote.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

I haven't been well lately and haven't been eating well. My roommate has been cooking for me and I've been feeling guilty about it. So last night I felt like I had the energy and desire to cook a proper meal, and I made this great recipe, which originally came from Cook Great Food by the Dieticians of Canada. This is a great cookbook full of healthy recipes and lots of ideas. My wasband got custody of the book, but luckily I remembered this recipe because I made it so often. I used this cookbook lots, so if you have a chance, check it out.

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

1 can clams, drained and nectar reserved
1 small can (154mL I believe) evaporated milk
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup white wine (if you don't do booze, non-alcoholic wine works as does chicken stock - just use a little less because the wine reduces and the other fluids don't)
2 tbsp flour
freshly crushed garlic to taste (I used 4 smaller cloves)
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
linguine, or other long pasta

1. Get the pasta going. The sauce will cook in the time it takes to cook the pasta.

2. In a large skillet, saute the onions in a bit of olive oil until translucent. Add mushrooms and saute until they've reduced in size. Deglaze the skillet with the wine and let it bubble away until the wine reduces by half. Reduce the heat to medium low. At this point, sprinkle the flour over the mixture and mix it in well. Then add the clam nectar, clams, and the evaporated milk. Add the garlic. Simmer gently for a few minutes and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve and enjoy!


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