Monday, March 31, 2008

Troll Alert!

I've had to enable comment moderation.  Full story here.  Sorry for the hassle.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

101 Uses for a Roasted Chicken: #2 & #3

This week, a bit of a no-brainer and a yummy sandwich.

The no-brainer, #2 on the list of 101, is a chicken caesar salad: cubed chicken, romaine, dressing, parmesan cheese, some croutons.  I had this for dinner last night.

The yummy sandwich, #3 on the list, is a spin on the traditional grilled cheese: grilled chicken, swiss, and pesto on whole-grain bread.  This is a to-die-for combination, and if you want to make it even more awesome, you can add a strip or two of bacon.  

I have been eating grilled sandwiches regularly this winter, and I don't really know why.  I usually have a grilled Black Forest ham & swiss, but because I'm avoiding the deli now, the chicken was a very tasty replacement, and it pairs brilliantly with pesto and swiss cheese.

With this one roasted chicken, I got about 4 - 5 meals, and I have saved the carcass to make stock and then soup.  I definitely got my $9 worth from this one bird.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter Cookies

Yesterday, trying to get myself into a springy mood, I invested in some Easter-themed cookie cutters. I had an earthy vision in mind, something different from the brightly coloured stuff that is so prevalent at this time of year, so I found a generic sugar cookie recipe and spiced it up with some espresso powder. I have had a bag of organic raw turbinado sugar kicking around, and the granules are large and suitable for decorations. This is what I came up with.

I made royal icing with one egg white (at room temperature) and between 2 - 3 cups of icing sugar, got out the old piping bag and small plain tips (Wilton #2 and #4), and away I went.

The egg-shaped cookies didn't quite turn out the way I'd envisioned them. I'm not sure why, but I think it was a combination of the granules being too large for the size of cookie vis a vis the tips I used. With the flower shapes, I decided to keep it simple and only use the royal icing as decoration. I liked how they turned out far better.

The recipe for the cookies is as follows, adapted from The Cookie Bible's recipe for Butterfly Cookies on page 132. I highly recommend this book; everything I've made from it has turned out fantastically.

2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tsp instant espresso powder (I use Nescafe's and it works just fine)

- 350F oven
- form the dough into two disks and chill until firm, either in the fridge or freezer
- roll out on lightly floured surface
- bake for 12 - 15 minutes, or until just barely golden along the edges

Well, that's about it for my Easter baking, I think. It was never a "baking" holiday in my family the way Christmas was. It was more of a "let the Easter Bunny do all the work" kinda holiday.

However you celebrate, if you celebrate or if you don't, be well this weekend.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Memory Lane: Cadbury's Edition

Recently, my super cool fellow foodblogger, Cakespy, posted an interview she did with a Cadbury's Creme Egg. This inspired me to dig around through my old photos in search of some pictures I took nearly 11 years ago on a visit to Cadbury's World. In celebration of Easter, here are those photos, freshly scanned with my new scanner!

The first photo is of one of the several Cadbury's Creme Egg cars near the entrance to Cadbury's World. Yes, this is a car. With a steering wheel and the whole nine yards.

The second photo is of me with my cousin, posing in front of a Cadbury's Creme Egg car. We have just come from the store, where I bought quite a bit of chocolate that day. And, on our tour through the facility, we got quite a bit of free stuff, too - and I'm not talking about those Halloween-sized chocolate bars, either! I'm talking regular-sized chocolate bars at pretty much every turn!

The third photo is of my cousin in front of a Cadbury's Mini Egg car. It is also a mini car in comparison with the Creme Egg car. Very cool indeed. It was such a fun day, too.

I haven't had any Creme Eggs yet this season, but I'm hopeful either the Easter Bunny will humour me, or that Shoppers Drug Mart, my new favourite place to buy cheap chocolates, will have a whole bunch on sale after Easter is over, because I do love a Creme Egg (or fifty).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

101 Uses for a Roasted Chicken: #1

New idea for the old food blog here. We'll see how it goes. I came across a book called Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue a few months ago, and I thought it was a neat idea. I didn't buy the book in the end, so this is my version.

I can get rotisserie chickens at my local overpriced grocery store, but I don't see the point in spending the money when it's perfectly simple to bung a chicken in the oven and cook it myself. It's ridiculously simple.

I am trying to cut down my meat intake, so I'm going for less meat but better quality cuts instead. So, I'm cutting out deli stuff like Black Forest ham, and I'm going to lay off the bacon and start buying buffalo instead of beef. Having a whole roast chicken around is a convenient way of providing me with decent meat for sandwiches, salads, and a lot of other things, and I always freeze the carcass to make my own homemade stock. So, as you can imagine, it's quite economical for me on my piddly budget.

Tonight, I made a chicken pasta salad for dinner:

1 cup chicken, diced
1 cup small pasta, such as penne or macaroni, etc., (raw measure - then cook it)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped small
2 green onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, grated
crumbled feta cheese, to taste (optional)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup low fat mayo
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
2 tsp dried dill
salt & pepper to taste

Do you really need instructions? It's a pasta salad! You get the picture, right? Just blanch the broccoli in the pasta water for a couple of minutes at the end of boiling, then drop it all into a collander and run it under cold water until completely cool. Mix. Eat. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Brownies...Or Blackies?

I made these this weekend. My friend provided the chocolate, which was 85% cocoa content. The recipe is Jamie Oliver's, and can be found here. This picture is slightly over-exposed; the brownies were so dark they were nearly black.

Although it calls for dried sour cherries, I've had a devil of a time finding any dried cherries period around here. In this case, I substituted with cherry-flavoured dried cranberries. They're not sour, but they were OK. I also used pecans because my friend doesn't like walnuts.

These were so moist and rich I could only eat one or two the entire time I was there...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Good Cookies

I recently added to my already way too big cookbook collection The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle. Ivonne had it featured on her blog for a while and at that point I put the book on my Amazon wishlist. I already have a pretty comprehensive cookie cookbook aptly entitled The Cookie Bible, which I highly recommend because all the recipes I've made from it turn out brilliantly and taste amazing.

I also own Tish Boyle's Chocolate Passion, an absolutely gorgeous book that is well worth the investment if you are a serious chocolate addict.

Today I made two recipes from The Good Cookie, the very first recipe in the book, Soft-baked Chocolate Chunk Cookies, and a cookie that apparently has Italian roots, Lemon Cornmeal Cookies. Both recipes were awesome. Here's a photo.

I am taking most of these cookies on my trip to Vancouver Wednesday the 12th, some for us to eat in the car, and some are for my friend B, with whom I am staying, and who has a sweet tooth just like I do.

If there's any left, that is.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Cookbook Review: Little Cakes from the Whimsical Bakehouse

If you like mini things, or if you are a cake decorator with a load of patience and time, or if you just want to challenge you limits and patience making fiddly little cakes, this may be the book for you.

I'm a bit of all three of the above. Little Cakes from the Whimsical Bakehouse: Cupcakes, Small Cakes, Muffins, and other Mini Treats is a cutesy cookbook and instructional manual on how to make a large variety of the mini treats touted in the subtitle.

It's a very nice-looking book. Each page is full of bright colours and the pictures of the finished products are gorgeous. Apart from the design of the book, there is a good collection of staple-type recipes for muffins, cakes, fillings, and icings - all you need to get yourself started on the road to creating lilliputian delights. There are also a lot of very neat decorating ideas and a handy template section at the back.

Some of the techniques I have seen before, like painting chocolate onto an actual leaf and then peeling the leaf back so you get a perfect chocolate version of the leaf for decors. Other things, like the use of a fine paintbrush to paint details for what the authors term the "Chocolate Method" are quite impressive-looking.

For the purposes of this book review, I selected two muffin recipes to make because I have no special occasion for which to go to the trouble of baking and decorating a batch of cupcakes. The Coffee Chocolate Chip muffins on page 56 were to die for: moist, cakey, and very tasty, they made an excellent dessert one night. The other recipe was the Blueberry Muffins on page 50. These also had an amazing texture and were super yummy. Both of these muffin recipes used the creaming method of combining butter, sugar, and eggs - similar to most cookie recipes - rather than the more common use of a liquid fat. I think this contributed to the wonderful texture. On the downside, however, neither muffin recipe puffed up much during baking. They remained fairly flat on top. While this is advantageous in a cupcake (flatter surface = easier to decorate) it isn't necessarily desirable in a muffin. But, that's minor. (Incidentally, I recently invested in silicone muffin cups and they work great.)

My only real criticism of this book is that apart from the photos illustrating the Chocolate Method, other piping and decorating techniques are only explained with text without the aid of visuals. Although we'd all like to believe that piping easy, it really isn't if you're inexperienced. I think it would have been helpful to have more photo illustrations of the piped decorating techniques, and because of this lack, I wouldn't really classify this as a beginner's manual. Otherwise, a great resource book full of lovely ideas and some killer recipes.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin