Monday, June 23, 2014

Blackberry Upside Down Cake

Yes, another upside down cake!  I'm on a roll.  I got the blackberries from a vacant lot next door to where I used to live up in North Surrey.  They're a bit seedy and they are not the greatest tasting blackberries ever despite how beautiful they were on the bush, but they just need a little extra help with some sugar and they're fine.  I made this cake two nights ago, once again using Betty Crackpot's Dinette Cake recipe.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Biscuits X2

Today was baking group at the clubhouse, and we made biscuits.  The original plan was to make scones to go with tea, but I discovered there were no eggs, so we made biscuits instead.  They turned out great!  We added cheese, dried chives, and dill to the mix, and the flavours were great.  Here they are.

When I got home, I decided to keep the baking momentum going and make something to accompany my cabbage rolls.  I was out of bread, too.  So, I decided to make this recipe, Pull-Apart Drop Biscuits.  They involved a very wet but rich dough that was very sticky to work with, but they turned out fantastically!  I was super impressed.  Both biscuit recipes came from the May 2010 issue of Canadian Living Magazine.  The above recipe is the Flaky Biscuits, and the recipe for the Pull-Apart Drop Biscuits is here.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cooking with Betty Crackpot: Pie Crust & Rhubarb Pie

I just wanted to post a pic of the rhubarb pie I made last week, from the rhubarb plant at my friends' place.  Two of the friends were rhubarb virgins and one didn't care for the stuff.  Well, I am happy to say I have made three rhubarby converts!  Yesssss!!!

I made them a pie, and here it is.  The pastry recipe is Betty Crackpot's - again.  It's a no-fail recipe, really. You can find it here.

And here is the pie, complete with a pretty lattice and everything.

A Pair of Upside Down Cakes/Cooking with Betty Crackpot

I am currently facilitating a baking group at my local mental health clubhouse, which is part of my volunteer requirements for the peer support training program I'm in.  Once a week, we bake something simple that can be accomplished in 2 hours, and recently I was asked if I could use up a pineapple that the clubhouse had on had that had gone overripe.  It was a pretty pathetic looking specimen, but once I cut into I thought it would be OK for a pineapple upside down cake.  I sliced up the pineapple and went ahead with the project.

It turned out superbly!  The recipe for the cake is Betty Crackpot's Dinette Cake, and you can find that recipe here.  For the upside down part of the cake, i.e. the bottom, mix together 1/4 cup melted butter and 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar. Spread evenly over the bottom of the cake pan. Arrange pineapple slices on top, make the cake batter, then spread it evenly over the pineapple.  I know this is supposed to have maraschino cherries in it, but honestly, it didn't need them (and they're not in my budget).  Here is the cake!
Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Also, very recently, I went over to some friends' place and divested them of all their rhubarb.  Two of these friends had never had rhubarb before, and one didn't like it, so the rhubarb plant was basically going to waste.  After the success of my pineapple upside down cake, I decided to make a rhubarb version.  And this is it:

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
 Same deal with the bottom, except rhubarb needs a bit of help.  I used about a cup and a half of finely chopped rhubarb, and combined it with about 1/4 cup of sugar, and some cinnamon & ground ginger.

This was TO.DIE.FOR.  In fact, it's one of the best things I think I've ever baked!

I loved it!  And I ate 3/4 of it in four days, I'm slightly sheepish to admit.  I gave the other quarter to a friend.

I have in the freezer a bag of wild blackberries.  I think I'll make a blackberry upside down cake next!

Epic Cabbage Roll Day - Redux

I had a craving for cabbage rolls this week and cabbage was on sale at my favourite grocery store, T&T.  Also, lean ground pork was on sale!  Exciting times, let me tell you.  So I spent Tuesday making a big pan of cabbage rolls, and they turned out fantastically!  I didn't cook or par cook the rice first, I just put it into the filling mixture raw, and although it came out a bit mushy, it worked very well.  I used the rice I had on hand, which was jasmine, but in the future I think I'll get a longer-cooking rice so I don't get the mush problem.

Here are some photos I took of my day.

Yes, I put half a package of bacon over the top - and it was great!  I was too lazy to fry it up and add it to the filling.  This worked just as well.

For previous Epic Cabbage Roll Days, check out this post from 2011 and this post from 2012.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Fresh Orange Cookies

I made these the other day for a housewarming party I'm no longer having.  They are soooooo good.  I didn't have any walnuts, but I had a ton of coconut, so I substituted that.  Pure win!  The recipe came from The Cookie Bible.

Fresh Orange Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 unpeeled orange (seedless, of course), finely chopped, either in a blender or food processor
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or shredded coconut

Orange Glaze

1 cup icing sugar
1 - 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tbsp butter, softened
zest of one orange
- mix all this together in a bowl until smooth

1. Beat butter & sugars until light & fluffy.  Add egg and orange and beat well.  Gradually blend in dry ingredients, then stir in nuts or coconut.  Cover and chill the dough in the fridge for at least an hour.  Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets and bake at 375F for 10 - 12 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Spread with glaze.

Awesome!  And a great way to use up oranges you have kicking around that might be past it slightly.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cooking With Betty Crackpot: Quiche Lorraine

OK, so this is not a recipe you'd want to feed someone with a heart condition where arteries are an issue.  Thank God my arteries are fine, so I went ahead with this recipe, which I'd had my eye one for some time, as I am a huge fan of quiche, and this quiche in particular.  I made the crust from scratch, and while I was doing that, I thought Why don't I do this more often?  Making pie crust is no big deal, IMO.  I don't know why I don't do it more often.  Perhaps I will.

As far as sodium is concerned, well...I used low sodium bacon. I also used one cup of whipping cream and 1 cup of 1% milk instead of 2 cups of cream.  I omitted the salt and sugar.

Here is the recipe, from page 218 of the 1969 version of Betty Crocker's Cookbook.

Quiche Lorraine

Pastry for a 9" one crust pie
12 slices of bacon, crisply fried and crumbled
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/3 cup minced onion
4 eggs
2 cups whipping cream or light cream (20%)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Heat oven to 425F.  Prepare pastry.  Sprinkle bacon, cheese, and onion in pastry-lined pan.  Beat eggs slightly; beat in remaining ingredients.  Pour cream mixture into pie pan.  Bake 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300F and bake 30 minutes longer or until knife inserted 1" from the edge comes out clean.  Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

A couple of issues.  First, the onions should be sauteed a bit because they gave off a lot of liquid during the cooking process and that made for a soggy crust. Also, I have no idea why the recipe instructs the cook to bake the quiche at 425F to begin with and then turn the temperature down.  I think this also contributed to a not-so-perfect crust bottom (pale and undercooked-looking).  So next time I make this, I'll cook down the onions a bit first and back the quiche at a one temperature...perhaps 350 or 375.  Also, I had to bake this way longer at 300 than the recipe suggests, like almost for an hour instead of 30 minutes.

Flavour-wise, however, this was great!  Loved it!  And I'll make it again for sure.  I served the quiche with some asparagus plainly roasted in a bit of olive oil.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Lemon "Brownies"

I have been back on Pinterest - that's how bored I am!  What a time-sucker it is.  But it's irresistible at the same time.  I have posted a few recipes I've found there on here, but then they marked this blog as spam and I was pissy about it, sent an email, which was never responded to, and then I promptly left the site for over a year and a half.  Now I am back...and once more addicted.

There is so much food on Pinterest it's ridiculous.  I found this recipe for Lemon Brownies the other day and was immediately intrigued.  I love a good lemon square, but this was a different kind of bar, so I wanted to try it.  There is a bit of risk with Pinterest recipes; some of them don't turn out and you never really know if they're as tried and true as they claim to be.  But this worked out wonderfully, despite the fact that there is no leavening agent in it.  I was worried about that small detail; I thought perhaps the cake part of the brownie would turn out like a chunk of cement.  I needn't have worried.  Though I slightly over baked it, the cakey part was just great.

I took them to a dinner for dessert and they were a big hit!  I will definitely make these again!

The recipe is here.


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Stirfry, Low Sodium Version

Regular soy sauce is pretty much off limits for me now, and recently a Facebook friend sent me the link to a low sodium soy sauce replacement she used herself as she requires a low sodium diet, too.  I made it yesterday for the first time, and it was OK.  Granted, I didn't have one of the ingredients; I had to substitute vinegars. The original recipe calls for red wine vinegar but I subbed with malt because that's what I had on hand.  The flavour was OK, and seemed like it would go well with beef.  This afternoon, after my obligatory 30 minutes of exercise - walking to the grocery store - I got some stirfry ingredients and made a beef and broccoli stirfry for dinner with the new sauce.

Before I get much further, here is the recipe for the sauce.

For the stirfry, I used a whole recipe of the sauce and added a heaping teaspoon of cornstarch to thicken it before throwing it in the wok.

The end result:

Well, it was different, that's for sure.  I'm going to make the sauce again for sure, but I am going to use red wine vinegar, which I picked up this afternoon, and I'm probably going to adjust the molasses amount because this was a bit too sweet.  But it's got potential for sure, and it was definitely low in sodium.

Thanks to Pale of A Creative Revolution for the sauce recipe!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Veggie Sandwich

This is my new go-to sandwich: cream cheese, some hard cheese, peppers, red onion, and alfalfa sprouts. Sometimes I add avocado.  I came out of the hospital with a hankering for, of all things, the sprouts.  I have been eating this sandwich fairly faithfully since I got out of hospital.

It's fairly low in sodium (the only value I don't know in this case is the bread, which is a sourdough from Cobs), but I used cream cheese (Island Farms brand, as it was the lowest in sodium) with 50mg/tbsp and I used a smoked cheddar purchased from Costco that, for a serving of 30g, has 8% of my sodium intake for the day in it.  I am pretty much done with deli meat. There are some lower sodium brands of deli meats, but I have decided to stay away from the stuff as much as possible because I know they're full of chemicals etc.

But oh, a pastrami sandwich with a huge dill pickle would go down really, really really well right now...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I'm Back!

So, where have I been and what have I been up to?  Well that's a long story.  The short story is that in Feb. I had a major health issue rear up before me - I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and heart failure.  As a result, I have to be on a low sodium diet and also I must restrict my fluids to 1.5-2L of fluid per day.  Easier said than done!

I have to convalesce from this for a while - I was in hospital for a month. I am bored, and I need a hobby.  Why take up something new when something I've had previously fill my recovery time with is right here, waiting to be revived?  Yep, I'm going to attempt to get back into food blogging.  Plus I have a new added dimension: low sodium cooking.

So far, I haven't enjoyed low sodium eating.  No salt = no flavour, right?  Well, pretty much!  I have recently become more obsessed with food labeling than usual, and I've had to make some pretty significant adjustments.  No salt also = no chips.  Ugh!  I have not had a potato chip in nearly two whole months!

Yesterday I ate out and had a case of the food fuck-its.  I gained 2lbs.  Today, I went to the grocery store and got some low sodium pantry items, feeling a little bit defeated.  I thought I could do low sodium my way, without any big substitutions.  But I was wrong.  My daily intake of salt should be no more than 2mg, which is about a teaspoon.  Dear God, how am I going to live with this?

Roast beef, seasoned with Costco's Mrs. Dash knockoff.
Tonight I made a low sodium meal with some of my new ingredients: roast beef and roast potatoes.  I don't know exactly how much sodium was in this meal, but the only ingredients that contained sodium were the packet of low sodium beef boullion (25% less salt than the regular stuff) which I cooked the roast in, and the 1/2 teaspoon of Club House's Garlic Plus seasoning mix I put on the potatoes (55mg/serving).  I seasoned the beef with Costco's brand of salt free seasoning, which wasn't bad at all. I sprinkled the dinner with Windsor's Salt Free "salt."

What a waste of $3.49!  The Salt Free = flavour free!  I also had the saltless salt on popcorn earlier today and though I thought I gave the stuff a decent shake over the popcorn, I didn't taste any saltiness.

The dinner as a whole, though, was quite palatable.  I have enough for leftovers and a few sandwiches.

 Man, this is going to be a long road.
Low sodium roast beef with roast potatoes.

Where are the veggies you ask?  Hmph!  I bought a salad kit the other day but it's gone off already.  Whatever!


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