Wednesday, December 19, 2012



A few days ago L dropped in for an extended stay with J and me. We're also heading up north for a short road trip during the holidays. I'm hoping we drive into some snow, because I love wintry things, especially snow. We don't get much (or any!) snow here.

For the trip up, I decided to make some nutty brownies to snack on. I really enjoy brownies with nuts because it gives the brownie a crunch. This recipe is the one recipe that keeps me from buying box mix brownies. I have tried a lot of brownie recipes but never quite found any that I liked as much as the box mix. Until I tried this one. 


This one gives you that flaky top on the brownies and is fudgy and dense. It's also a one bowl, one pot recipe. So good. 

makes 9 large or 16 small
6 T butter
6 oz. semisweet chocolate
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 c flour
1/4 t baking powder
1/8 t salt
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 c chopped nuts, if desired

Preheat oven to 350F (176C). Grease an 8x8in pan. I like to line my pan with foil and grease the foil. That way when the brownies are cool I just lift them out and then cut. 


Melt the butter, semisweet chocolate, and cocoa powder over low heat. 

Put the eggs, vanilla, and sugar in and large bowl and beat together. You can use an electric mixer but I just used my spatula.

Slowly add the melted chocolate mixture to the bowl. Beat together until combined. 


Then add in your flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix this all together well. If you are using nuts, add the nuts now.


Put the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes.

Let cool, then cut. Eat!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mint Chocolate Macarons


I haven't blogged in awhile, due to the fact our oven died a bit ago. I'm not entirely sure what went on, but J investigated and figured out what happened. He ordered the part and fixed it right up. I decided to celebrate our oven's revival by making macarons.

I've made chocolate macarons before, so I used the same base recipe for the shells.

Macarons | makes about 16 cookies
from here
3/4 c almond flour
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 c sugar
2 large egg whites
mint oil 

adapted from here
1/2 c heavy cream
1 T light corn syrup
1/2 bunch mint leaves
80 g semisweet chocolate
80 g milk chocolate
1/2 T butter

For the shells:
You can buy almond flour or make your own. If you are making your own, chop the almonds before grinding  them up. I use a spice grinder.


Next, sift the confectioner's sugar and almond flour together.

Whip the egg whites until they are at soft peaks. When they have reached soft peaks, gradually beat in the superfine sugar.

firm and glossy
Keep whipping the egg whites until you get a firm glossy meringue. When you're at this point, if you shake off the beaters, the egg whites will just sit on top the the ones in the bowl. They won't sink in. You also know that you've reached that point when you turn the bowl upside down and the egg whites don't slide around the bowl or fall out.

If you want to put food coloring in, add it in. Also add the mint oil. I used a drop of mint oil. I put a drop of green food coloring in too, because I wanted it to match the mint flavor, but it baked out and the shells turned out cream colored. So if you want them to be colored, put a couple of drops in.

Beat the oil and coloring into the egg whites just until they're evenly mixed in.


Fold in the almond flour/confectioner's sugar mixture. Keep folding the mixture until it loosens up, enough for it to disappear into itself after a few seconds.


Put the batter into a piping bag and pipe out small circles onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Then let these rest for 30 minutes.


Bake at 290F for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 280F and bake 12 minutes more. Let cool on sheets and then carefully pry the shells off.

For the filling:
Put the cream, corn syrup, and mint leaves in a small pot and bring to a boil. Then take it off the heat and let mint infuse for 1 hour. Take the mint leaves out.

Heat the cream again and then pour over the chocolate. Let sit for a minute, then stir it all together to produce a homogeneous mixture. Let the mixture cool until it is pipeable and then use to sandwich the shells together.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Apple Pie


This apple pie is very simple and delicious. I really like to eat it with some good vanilla ice cream.

Apple Pie
4-6 apples (I used 4 granny smith and 1 yellow delicious)
1/2 to 3/4 c sugar
2 T flour
spices, if desired (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg)
two pie crusts
cream, extra sugar

I had some leftover pie crusts which I used. It made the process easier and faster, but if you want you can make some from scratch.


First peel and slice the apples. I sliced mine really thin. (For a chunkier filling, slice thicker, or chop.) Mix the sugar and flour together, then mix in with the apples.


Put one pie crust in the pie dish and then fill with apples. Sprinkle spices over the top of the apples. 


Put the second pie crust over the filling. Brush the top with cream and sprinkle with extra sugar. Score the top. Bake in a 375F (190C) oven for about an hour. For the first 30 minutes of baking, place some foil over the edge so that it doesn't burn.


Let cool on wire rack. Enjoy!

slicing the apples thinly creates a smooth filling

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I love doughnuts but I have never made them myself before because I think the ones at the store are perfectly fine. However this changed when I went on a spree of dissecting store-bought food ingredient lists. If it came in a package, I read the ingredients. Of course this probably doubled the amount of time I spent in the grocery store, but I found it pretty interesting. There were lots of things I have never heard of, some I couldn't even pronounce. I decided then that I would make some doughnuts with simple ingredients I could pronounce.

Cake Doughnuts from here
makes about 16 doughnuts*
4 cups flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 eggs
1.25 c sugar
1 t vanilla
2/3 c milk
1/4 c butter, melted
oil or shortening for frying
toppings, like confectioner's sugar, chocolate glaze, powdered sugar icing
*I halved this recipe and it worked well

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Put the eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl and beat until thick (3 minutes on medium speed with electric mixer). In small bowl stir together milk and melted butter.

Next, put the flour mixture and the milk mixture in the large bowl, alternating between the two and stirring in after each addition. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. I waited for 3 hours.
dough before chilling

Generously flour your work surface. Roll the dough to 1/2 inch thickness and cut out doughnuts. 
cutting the dough

cut out doughnuts

frying the doughnuts

Fry in deep hot oil for a few minutes, until doughnuts are nicely browned. Flip them once. The oil should be at 365F (185C). Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. To make doughnut holes, put the centers in the oil and fry.

Let them cool a little and then coat with confectioner's sugar, cinnamon sugar, or put chocolate glaze on top if you would like. I just melted some semisweet chocolate and put on top of the doughnuts.


I've never fried anything before, so I think these came out good for my first try. They were nice and hearty, really great when still slightly warm.

Thursday, September 6, 2012



This last summer, J, L, and I have been into baguettes and goat cheese. We go to this local market and pick up a jar of goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and black olives. They are actually a medley that you put in the fridge and they kind of marinate in their own juices.

My favorite way to eat it is on toasted baguette slices. A few weeks ago, when J and I went to Wal-Mart to pick up a baguette from their bakery, we couldn't find any baguettes. We kept going back but unfortunately they apparently stopped selling them. I decided it was a perfect situation to attempt homemade baguettes. I used my Bread Baker's Apprentice book, which I love and have tried a few other recipes from it before. 

Baguettes from The Bread Baker's Apprentice
makes 3 baguettes

Pâte Fermentée - for 16 oz.
5 oz all purpose flour
5 oz. bread flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast (I used active dry)
6-7 oz. water, room temp.

Stir together flours, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Put 6 oz. water in and stir to make a coarse ball. Knead for 4-6 minutes to make a soft, tacky dough. Put in a lightly oiled bowl and let ferment for 1 hour or until it has grown 1.5 times its original size. Then remove from bowl, knead lightly, and return to bowl. Stick in fridge overnight. This will keep for 3 days in the fridge, or you can freeze it for up to 3 months.

Baguette Dough
pâte fermentée
5 oz. all purpose flour
5 oz. bread flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast (I used active dry)
6-7 oz. water, lukewarm

pate fermentee

Take the pâte fermentée out of the fridge 1 hour before making the baguettes, and cut into 10 pieces. Cover with a towel and let sit.


Stir together flours, salt, yeast, and pâte fermentée in a large bowl. Add water and stir to make a ball. Knead for 10 minutes on a lightly floured counter. The dough should pass the windowpane test. Lightly oil a bowl and put the dough in it. Cover and let rise for 2 hours or until doubled in size. If it doubles before 2 hours just knead it gently to degas and put back in the bowl.

dough before fermenting
before fermenting

dough after fermenting
after fermenting

Next, remove the dough and divide into 3 equal pieces. To form into baguettes, take a piece of dough and pat into a rough rectangle. Fold the bottom third up halfway and then the top third on top of that. It is like folding a letter. Then roll out like a play dough snake. If the dough snaps back, let it sit for a few minutes to let it relax. Make sure you don't roll out the baguette too long. My baking stone was 15", so that was how long my baguettes ended up.

Then place the three baguettes in a couche. I don't have one so I used a towel. Put the baguettes on a kitchen towel and bunch up the towel between the baguettes to allow them to proof. Lay a towel over the baguettes. Proof these baguettes until they grow to 1.5 times of the original size, 45-75 minutes.


To prepare the oven, you need a steam pan or skillet underneath the baking stone or baking sheet. I used a cast iron skillet but a heavy duty lipped sheet pan is good too (thinner pans buckle under the heat). Put the steam pan/skillet on the bottom rack. Then put a baking stone or another sheet pan on a higher rack.

here is the oven setup

Preheat the oven to 500F (260C). Generously sprinkle cornmeal on a pan without a lip, or turn a lipped pan upside down. Gently slide baguettes to the pan and score. Then slide the baguettes onto the baking stone. Next, pour 1 cup simmering water into the steam pan/skillet. This was pretty fun because the water dances around the skillet as soon as it hits the pan and creates steam. Shut the over door quickly.

The recipe says after 30 seconds to mist the baguettes with a spray bottle filled with water. Close the door, then 30 seconds after, mist them again. Repeat once more. So a total of 1.5 minutes. I didn't have a spray bottle so I didn't do that. I just waited 1.5 minutes.

Whether you do the misting or not, after the 1.5 minutes is up, reduce oven to 450F (232C). Bake 10 minutes. Loaves should be a rich golden brown color and register 205F (96C) when done. This may require 15-20 more minutes of baking. If they are getting to be too brown and are not 205F, you can just turn the oven off and bake 5-10 minutes more. Mine were done after the 1.5 minutes at 500F, and then 15 minutes at 450F.
baguettes cooling
my first baguettes, fresh from the oven

Remove loaves from oven when done and cool on wire rack for 40 minutes before serving.

the steam in the oven and the high temperature helps create a nice hard crispy crust

Here is a toasted slice from one of the baguettes with marinara sauce spread over, then crumbled goat cheese, black olive, and cilantro on it. It was really good. I never have to go to Wal-Mart for a baguette again!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Danish Apple and Prune Cake


I have been watching the cooking Channel more and more lately; Food Network seems to be doing more of the competition shows, and while I like those, sometimes I just want to watch someone cooking something. The Cooking Channel also has a lot of cooking shows that I have not seen before.

Last week a show caught my attention, probably because of the name - "Two Fat Ladies". On the particular episode I saw, they made this Apple and Prune Cake.


I loved this cake. It's very moist and you can really taste the nuts. This does require a bit of prep work, but it comes out beautifully and is definitely worth it.

Danish Apple and Prune Cake
from here

For the Batter:
5 ounces butter
7 ounces caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 ounces self-rising flour
4 ounces ground almonds
4 ounces milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon boiling water
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

For the topping:
8 stoned prunes, chopped
4 ounces shelled walnuts, finely chopped and mixed with 2 tablespoons sugar
2 green apples, cored and sliced
3 tablespoons sugar
ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F. Butter a 10 inch round cake tin.

In a mixer, mix the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, almonds, milk, boiling water, and baking powder together. Pour into prepared pan.

Scatter the prunes on top of the batter. Spread the walnut and sugar mixture over the batter as well. Arrange apple slices on top of the walnuts. Bake for 45 minutes.

Sprinkle surface with the 3 tablespoons sugar, ground cinnamon, and dot with butter. Bake 20-25 minutes more or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Oaty Anzac Biscuits

For Christmas I was given two books - Donna Hay's Modern Classics. So far I've tried the oaty anzac biscuits, and my family liked them so much I ended up making it twice. They are very easy to make and you don't even need to use an electric mixer.

oaty anzac biscuits
217from here
makes 22

1 c rolled oats
1 c plain flour
½ c sugar
¾ c desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons golden syrup
125 g (4 oz) butter
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon hot water

Preheat oven to 160C (325F).
Place oats, flour, sugar, and coconut into bowl. Over low heat, melt syrup and butter together. Dissolve soda and water together and add to melted butter mixture.
Put liquid ingredients into bowl with oat mixture. Place rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake until golden, 10-12 minutes.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Sugar N Spice Cookies

Now that the holidays are over, things are back to normal and I've got a little more time to blog. Today I'm sharing an old recipe that my grandmother used to make. Now my father makes them and so do I!
It's a very old recipe:
sugar n spice
These are full of spices and smell delicious while they're baking.

Sugar n Spice Cookies (single batch)

Preheat oven to 375F (190C).

Thoroughly mix together 3/4 cup soft shortening (Crisco), 1 cup of sugar, 1 egg, and 1/4 cup molasses.

Sift together 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons of soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon cloves, and 3/4 teaspoon ginger. Stir this into the shortening mixture.

Form into balls the size of small walnuts. Place about 2 in. apart on grease baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. I find that 12 minutes works perfectly.

Usually we bake these during the holidays and give them as gifts, so we make a double batch. A double batch gets about 100 cookies. It all depends on how big you make them though.

and everything nice