Sunday, 17 August 2014

Smore Cupcakes




These are my new favourite cupcakes!!!

I love taking two different desserts, mashing them together to create one bundle of awesome. In this case, the classic campfire treat of Smores is the theme, but it takes shape in form of a cupcake.

Also, any opportunity to use a blow torch in the kitchen is one that should be jumped upon. The potential of lighting cupcake papers on fire is real... and thrilling.



MUCH CUTENESS!

Graham flour and honey flavour the cake part of these cupcakes, reminding us of graham crackers. A semi-sweet chocolate ganache is spooned over, and a marshmallow frosting is whipped together in no time at all to sit all cute and pretty on the very top.

As if that were not enough to achieve the ultimate crowd pleaser, the marshmallow frosting is TOASTED! We are bringing the campfire to our kitchen, people. It feels so great!

 Serve these cuties at a party outdoors on a summer evening, preferably with patio lights and good music. They are serious friend makers. Trust me, I speak from experience.

Smore Cupcakes
Recipe from Martha Stewart (Gotta love her, or at least her cupcakes)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups graham flour (found it at Community Natural Foods, Bob’s Red Mill brand)
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
6 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Whisk together both flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in honey, then eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients on low speed.
Divide batter into muffin tins... I used mini muffin tins.
Bake at 350 (325 for our oven). I baked the minis for 15 minutes. The original recipe for regular sized cupcakes calls for 25 minutes.

Made about 4.5 dozen mini cupcakes. (recipe makes regular sized cupcakes and claims to yield 2 dozen)

Chocolate Ganache Glaze:

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I did 5 oz semisweet, 1 oz bittersweet... because I love me some bittersweet)
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp corn syrup

Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream and syrup until steamy and hot, but not boiling!
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 5 or so minutes. Stir slowly with a spatula to gradually combine the two until you have a silky smooth ganache!


Marshmallow Frosting

1 tbsp powdered gelatin
1/3 cup cold water (for gelatin)
1/4 cup water (for pot)
1 cup sugar

In the bowl of a standing mixer, sprinkle the gelatin over the 1/3 cup cold water. Let stand to soften. (about 5 minutes)
Heat the remaining 1/4 cup water with the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, stop stirring. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pot. Let the sugar bubble and boil until the temperature reaches 238 degrees F - “soft-ball” stage. Remove from the heat, and add to gelatin mixture. Whisk by hand for about one minute to cool slightly. Then use the standing mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium high speed for 8-10 minutes until  soft, glossy white peaks form. Use immediately, as the frosting begins to harden and set quickly.

Cupcake assembly:
 For mini cupcakes, spread about 1 tsp ganache glaze over the tops. Pipe marshmallow frosting with a plain round tip. Use a kitchen torch to lightly toast the frosting... just like a marshmallow!!!


HOLY MOLY! These cupcakes are WINNNNERRRSSSS!!

XOXO Lari


Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Hazelnut Gelato

OH MY GOODNESS I GOT AN ICE CREAM MAKER LET THE GAMES BEGIN!



I have only been dreaming of owning my own ice cream machine for years... and now I am finally the proud owner of one! I got this model, and I have used it once. And so far I LOVE IT!




ICE CREAM FOR DAYS!

I can't wait to make 198359283745987 different flavours and make homemade ice cream sandwiches... I have quite the line up of bookmarked pages of things to try including this, this and THIS!

My first flavour with this new baby is Hazelnut Gelato, absolutely inspired by my recent trip to Italy. My favourite gelato flavours in Italy were usually hazelnut or coffee. You best believe I will be trying coffee ice cream out soon soon soooooon!

OMG MY FIRST SCOOP.



Ice cream takes patience, love and whole milk :)
I am willing to spare all of these.


Hazelnut Gelato
Recipe from Rocco DiSpirito

Note: This recipe only makes a very small amount... but I thought that was okay for my first batch! Plus I know I will be wanting to try out other flavours like IMMEDIATELY.

This recipe tasted good, although I must admit that it seemed to take a lot of effort and produce not very much. But I am far too excited not to share my first creation!! MANY MORE TO COME :)

4 ounces hazelnuts, toasted and skinned (a little bit of skin left on is okay. for my standards at least!)
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp granulated sugar

In a food processor, whiz up the hazelnuts to fine crumbs and then keep on processing until they turn into a paste. You just made hazelnut butter! What what!
In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk until hot and small bubbles form around the outside, but not boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the hazelnut paste until thouroghly combined. Set mixture aside and allow to cool completely.

Once cool, strain through a fine mesh strainer. Wash out the strainer, discarding any solids. Strain the mixture again, but this time line the strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth to make the mixture even smoother.

In another bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until foamy. Whisking constantly, slowly pour in the hazelnut-milk, a little at a time, until completely combined. Place the custard mixture over a pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly over medium heat for about 4 minutes, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Let the mixture cool completely, and cool it in the fridge for at least a few hours until it is really cold. (this will speed up the churning process)

Follow the instructions on your ice cream machine... and voila! Homemade Hazelnut Gelato! YOU'RE A WIZARD!




XOXO
Lari 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Cinnamon Bun Cake

When you say "Birthday", I say "Cake"! No seriously. Any time someone says birthday I think of cake. And I feel like I'm not the only one out there am I right.



SO When I was given the opportunity recently to make not one BUT TWO cakes for a friend's birthday party I was like HECK YEAH! 

This is the story of the first cake. (Second cake coming soon!)

I was given the memo that said friend really really likes cinnamon buns and wanted a "cinnamon bun cake... what ever that is". It was my job to figure out "what ever that was" and turn cinnamon bun into cake form.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

I thought about just making one big ass cinnamon bun.

But there is something about birthday parties and layer cakes that are just such a great combination... I could not resist!

The Cinnamon Bun Cake was born!


This is a dessert that has all the physical properties of a layer cake, but all the flavours of the classic breakfast treat. Cinnamon spiced vanilla cake, sandwiching a layer of cinnamon sugar filling, all coated in a cream cheese frosting. And decorated with lil' mini cinnamon buns. Cuz, CUTE!



If you like cinnamon buns, and you like cake, then this is a keeper for you! The birthday friend approved. As did the birthday party goers!

Cinnamon Bun Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350F, butter two 8" round cake pans with butter, dust with flour and tap out excess flour.
Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches alternating with the milk, beating until combined after each.
Divide the batter evenly between the two tins and give the tins a firm tap on the counter to let any air bubbles escape. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and tops are springy, about 30 minutes or so.
Let cakes cool for at least 10-15 minutes in the tins before removing them. Let them cool completely before filling/frosting them. At this point, you can wrap the cakes individually in plastic wrap and keep them in the freezer until you need them (up to one month). Fun fact! Frozen cakes are actually way easier to frost than room temperature ones.

Cinnamon-Sugar Filling

1/4 cup melted butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 ounces (1/4 cup) softened butter
4 cups sifted icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream the cream cheese and the butter together. On low speed, gradually add the icing sugar and mix until fully incorporated. Mix in the vanilla extract. Beat on high for a few minutes to create a light and fluffy frosting. Like the cake, frosting can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 1 month.

ASSEMBLY!

Place one cake layer onto desired serving platter or cake stand. Spread the top of this cake with the cinnamon-sugar filling. Spread a layer of the cream cheese frosting over top of this layer. Place the second cake layer on top. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese frosting over the top and sides of the cake, using an offset spatula to make it as even as possible. This is just the base layer of frosting, so it can be quite thin (called the "crumb-coat"). Place the cake in the fridge for about 30 minutes to let the crumb-coat firm up a bit. This will make it easier to frost later.
Take the cake out of the fridge and frost with the remaining cream cheese frosting, swirling and spreading as you wish. Garnish the top with halved mini cinnamon buns

Happy Baking!
XO Lari

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Ricotta and Spinach Pasta Bake

WELL! It has certainly been a while since my last post. But hey that is okay because I have been busy doing other various things. These things include but are not limited to the following:


  • Finishing my third year at Alberta College of Art and Design
  • Going on an epic journey to do an exchange program in Glasgow, Scotland which in turn lead me to other epic journeys in Berlin, Amsterdam, Spain, London and finally Italy!!! (Is this real life?)
  • Getting a new job at a sweet little cafe in the trendy neighbourhood of Kensington. Come on down to Higher Ground! We have some delicious specialty coffees and tea mistos which I am drinking far too many of.
  • Taking a spring course to lighten the load of 4th year... Am I really going to be in FOURTH YEAR next year?? What is this madness...
  • Wearing a dress everyday in June to raise money for charity. Not a very difficult challenge for me.
  • Various other things that a 21 year old with the personality of a 60 year old would do! Cooking, reading, going to bed early etc.
But I do believe it's time for a new recipe. What do you say?

Yeah? 

OKAY!

Sometimes, hardest part about coming back to something after a long time is trying to decide "where to begin"? Do I try and start from where I left off? This seems too complicated. What feels right is to just jump in from wherever. The rest will fill itself in. And let's be honest, it doesn't really matter does it! 

The key for me at the moment I think is to just keep things simple. Let us not rush in with complicated cakes and fancy new dishes... although I have some brewing don't even worry about it!

Let's be super simple and just go with what I whipped out for dinner this very evening!


Let's call it "Ricotta and Spinach Pasta Bake" and let's call it Dinner. Let's call it more often, it was gooooood.

Look at dat cheeeeeese...

This recipe was given to me by a lovely girl who was my flatmate when I was staying in Glasgow. Long story short, I was ridiculously lucky to be able to live in a flat with two other girls who wanted to share cooking and groceries duties... which makes life awesome! The two girls were Laura and Evie, and I am truly grateful for them being a part of my Glasgow Adventure.
Laura has some trusty recipes tucked up her sleeve. By sleeve I mean a book that where she writes down all her tried and true dishes, often ones from her mother.
I was lucky enough to get some of these recipes passed on to me! YES.

This particular recipe was not one that Laura ever made for me... but I happened to have ALL the ingredients for it at once, which let me tell you is a rare occasion in this household. Especially when we are talking about ricotta cheese and fresh basil. But the cheese and pasta stars aligned and it was meant to be.

We had my dear Auntie Joan over for dinner and she loved it so much she asked for the recipe. So it's safe to say it passed the test! Thank you to Laura :)



The photos are not the greatest ever, but I ain't even worried! I'm just glad to be back. :)


Ricotta and Spinach Pasta Bake
Serves 4 with leftovers
Recipe from Laura Gaiger
  • 250 grams pasta (any kind will do, I used fusilli)
  • 400 grams ricotta cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 50 g parmesan, grated
  • 15 g fresh basil, chopped
  • 125 grams spinach (I used frozen)chopped
  • about 1/2 jar pasta sauce (I used Newman's Own Marinara)
  • Mozzarella cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup?)
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until almost done, but not quite. It will continue to cook in the oven.
In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, garlic, half of the parmesan, the basil and spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 375.
When the pasta is done, drain it, then add it to the bowl with the ricotta mixture. Stir.
In a large oven proof dish, spread a thin layer of sauce over the bottom. Pile on the pasta mixture, then spread another thin layer of sauce over the top. Sprinkle on the mozzarella and the remaining parmesan.
Bake for about 20-30 minutes until brown and bubbly on the top... YUMNESS!


Serve with a lovely garden salad and you have yourself a lovely but hearty veggie meal!

Cheers!
<3 Lari


Sunday, 25 August 2013

Breakfast Tacos

Breakfast Taco Sunday. That is totally already a thing, isn't it? Or maybe it is not. But it absolutely SHOULD BE. 



I treated myself this morning. Because it is important to treat yo self. Especially when you have to work later in the day. Especially when you wake up from a sugar hangover from all the s'mores (and extra marshmallows, and handfuls of kettle corn) you ate the night before. The cure: Make a cup of coffee and drink it in bed. Get up and go for a run. Just do it, you'll feel better. Morning air! It just feels good. Then pull on a fresh shirt and make yourself brunch. And make it tacos. And eat it outside because it is summer and that is just what you do.




My usual classic most favorite "I could eat this everyday" breakfast of fruit and yogurt was just not going to cut it today. All the sugar from the evening before left me wanting nothing but something savory... something with eggs, and cheese, preferably in a tortilla. We have avocados? YES. We have black beans? YES! Brunch time.

Tacos for breakfast is something that should indeed happen more often! This goes right up there on my list of best thing I have ever made. My intense love of tacos prevails <3

Breakfast Tacos with Eggs and Black Beans
Recipe inspired by Shutterbean
(This is more of a guideline than a recipe. Choose your own taco adventure)

Makes one big, overflowing taco.

  • corn tortilla
  • spoonful of black beans (I had some from a leftover dinner kickin' in the fridge, but you could used canned)
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped fresh chives
  • slices of avocado
  • grated cheddar cheese
  • fresh cilantro
In a small bowl, whisk the egg with salt and pepper and some of the chives. Char the corn tortilla over the open flame of a gas stove for a short time... careful, you don't want to burn it! Keep it wrapped in a towel until ready to fill to keep it warm.
Scramble the egg mixture until just cooked.
Take your tortilla, spoon on the beans, then the egg, layer the avocado slices, sprinkle with cheese and the extra chopped chives and finish with CILANTRO! (Oh cilantro, I love you.)
Go outside and eat it on the porch and feel the pride.

To Ten AM tacos!

<3 Lari

Monday, 19 August 2013

A Quiche for Julia


On August 15th this year, Julia Child would have turned 101 years old! So obviously we celebrate! With quiche!

Last year I wanted to acknowledge Julia's 100th birthday when I found out about it, so I cooked her recipe for a savory cheese souffle. And you know what? It turned out awesome! I felt so fancy cooking up something from her very own cookbook. So... I have decided to make it a bit of a yearly tradition. On her birthday, August 15th, I will cook something by Julia, for Julia!

This year: quiche.

I am such a quiche fan! It feels classy somehow, even though it is just any ingredients mixed in eggs in pastry. But pair it with a garden salad and BAM! You have a classy lunch, or light dinner.




The other awesome thing about quiche is that you can really put in whatever ingredients you like, or whatever you have in your fridge. In this scenario, I did caramelized onions and mushrooms. Oh yes and cheese. Because, cheese.


Happy Birthday to Julia! 
And as she would always say, Bon Appetit!

Mushroom and Onion Quiche
Recipe slightly adapted from Julia Child


So I must confess, my quiche did not turn out quite how I was hoping it would. It was delicious don't even worry! However I did not bake the crust long enough (and made a mistake with the oven temperature...oops) so while the sides of the crust were buttery and flaky like a dream, the base of the crust was quite undercooked. 

I will give Julia's instructions here, and hopefully it will work better for you than it did for me. I know Julia would have not given up (!) so I shall definitely try again and get the temperature right this time and hopefully perfect the art of quiche-making. I will tell you though, that if you think "maybe it should be a little more baked before I add the filling" then yes, listen to your heart. I didn't. And ended up with unbaked pastry. Nobody wants that.

Pastry:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 8 ounces cold butter cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup ice water (plus a bit extra as needed)
Whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the cold cubes of butter and using your sparkling clean hands, blend the butter into the flour with your fingers, breaking it up into pieces. Keep working the butter into the flour until the chunks are pea-sized. Drizzle in the cold water and using a cupped hand, quickly bring the mixture together to form a ball of dough. You will probably need a tablespoon more water to get all the flour to come together. 

On a lightly floured board, form the pastry into a ball and use the heel of your hand (not your palm because it will be too warm and will melt the butter) just smear the pastry against the board a few inches away from you. This helps to bring the pastry together completely. Flatten pastry into a round disk, wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. The pastry will also keep for weeks in the freezer.

After the pastry has had time to chill, we can roll it out! Using a rolling pin, start in the center of the disk and just use small motions at first, turning the pastry after each roll to keep the circle even. Continue rolling out the pastry until it is 1/8" thick.

Grease an 8" tart pan with removable bottom with butter. Transfer the pastry into the pan. This is done easily by rolling the pastry round onto your rolling pin, then unrolling it over top of the tart pan. Press the pastry into the corners and up the side of the pan. Use your rolling pin to trim the excess pastry and isn't it looking gorgey already?!

But hold on, we gotta pre-bake this baby first. Like definitely.

Prick the bottom of the pastry all over with a fork. Place a piece of parchment on the top and fill the empty tart with dried beans or pie weights. If you are not baking the shell right away, keep it in the fridge! Bake the shell in a 400 degree oven until set, 7-10 minutes. (I will do more next time!)

Remove the parchment with the beans or weights and place the tart shell back in the oven to brown for 3 minutes or so.

Let the shell cool completely before adding your filling. You can unmold the tart from its pan now, or wait until your quiche is completely finished. I chose the latter option, just to be safe.

Filling:
  • 1 tbsp cream
  • 1 cup minus 1 tbsp milk (I used skim because that's what I had)
  • 3 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1/2-1 tbsp butter
  • about 8 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Optional: 1 slice Swiss cheese, torn into pieces
First, start by caramelizing the onions. I could eat anything with caramelized onions. Maybe even ice cream.

Heat a wide pot over medium low heat with the olive oil. Onve the pan is hot, add the onion slices and cook over a low to medium low heat, stirring occasionally, for a looooong time. How long? Maybe even up to an hour. Woah! Because good things take time my friends. Low and slow is the game. When the onions are soft and golden and caramelized like magic, you may remove them from the pot into a bowl and set them aside.

In the same pot, toss in a dab of butter along with the sliced mushrooms and garlic. Take a moment to appreciate the way your house now smells. Saute the mushrooms until they have lost their liquid and are cooked through. I added my onions back into the pot about halfway through... because I wanted them to make friends. Once everything is cooked to your liking, turn off the heat and set this mixture aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and cream and seasonings. This mixture can be kept in the fridge for a few hours if not used right away. Also, to this mixture you can add your own ingredients if your not feeling the onion and mushrooms. You could add cheese, sauteed veggies, cooked meats like BACON. I like where you're going with this...

When you are ready to bake your quiche, call your aunt and invite her over for a nice lunch. Then, preheat your oven to 375.
Spoon some of the onion and mushroom mixture over the bottom of the tart crust. Pour in the egg filling to just below the top of the tart and sprinkle the cheese pieces over the top.

*Note: I only used about half of my filling mixture in my quiche. The rest I baked up in a buttered baking dish to make a second crust-less quiche.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the quiche has puffed up and turned golden brown. Julia says that once it has cooked, it should not wiggle in the center.

Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.



Serve alongside a garden salad avec a light vinaigrette and be proud that you just made quiche. Even if your pastry isn't fully cooked. You're still awesome. And so is Julia!

Bon Appetit!

<3 Lari

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Peach-Raspberry Tart with Cornmeal Crust


Fun Fact Number 1: August 11 happens to be National Raspberry Tart Day in the United States. 
Fun Fact Number 2: I was planning on making a peach and raspberry tart on August 11 ANYWAYS!

Don't you love it when life just lines up like that? But please do not feel that you must wait for an irrational National Food Holiday to bake a delicious summer fruit tart. You should do it just because you want to. And because you have a bounty of ripe fruit begging to be eaten! Like that is a problem.



I love summer for all of the fresh fruit! It seems like there is so much of it around and it tastes SO MUCH BETTER when it's in season. I want all the fruits. I made this tart with just peaches and raspberries but you could really use whatever fruit you have on hand. Apricots, nectarines, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, pitted cherries... You could use a combination of fruits or just one fruit...choose your own fruity adventure.


The crust has cornmeal in it, woah! It pairs nicely with the summery fruit and adds a little crunch in texture. Not feeling the cornmeal? You can replace it and just use all flour. But cornmeal is kind of exciting! Is my life that boring that I get excited about cornmeal? No, I'm gonna go with cornmeal is really exciting. What? You are not excited about cornmeal? Weird.

PS This was my first debut of my NEW TART PAN SET WITH REMOVABLE BOTTOMS which I have been dying to use since I got them as a gift like 6 months ago... finally! It feels darn good. Let there be TARTS! I can also sense a quiche in my future... my pie senses tell me. And my pie senses are quite keen these days...

Peach-Raspberry Tart with Cornmeal Crust
Recipe barely adapted from Martha Stewart

Crust:
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3.5 oz butter (7 tbsp.) cut into cubes
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Filling:
  • 3 peaches cut into slices
  • 3/4 cup fresh raspberries
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 scant tbsp. turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Directions:
  1. Place all the ingredients for the crust into a food processor and whiz it up! Doesn't get much easier than that. Dump the mixture into an ungreased 8 inch tart pan with removable bottom. (If you don't have a tart pan you can also use an 8 inch springform pan. Press the crust mixture evenly into the pan and up the sides. Place the tart pan onto a rimmed baking sheet. Bake the crust at 400F for about 15 minutes until it is puffed and slightly golden. Remove the crust from the oven and press it down with an offset spatula. Reduce the oven temperature to 375F
  2. In a medium bowl, toss together the peach slices, raspberries, brown and granulated sugar.
  3. Pour the fruit filling mixture into the partially baked crust and sprinkle the top with some turbinado sugar. Place back in the oven to bake for another 30-35 minutes, or until fruit is tender and bubbly and the edge of the crust is golden brown.
  4. Remove from the oven and move tart pan to a wire rack to cool.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature and VANILLA ICE CREAM :) (obviously)
Enjoy!

<3 Lari