Archive | February, 2010

Tiramisu: Heaven on a Dessert Plate

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

Thank you Aparna and Deeba! This was certainly quite a challenge (with some standing-by-the-stove endurance involved) and the payoff is heavenly!

Homemade Tiramisu -- everything from scratch

Tiramisu is probably our family’s favorite non-Filipino cake. If it’s on the menu at a restaurant we’re dining in, that’s what we’ll get for dessert. You know how much we love it? This is the only photo of a slice I could get before it disappeared. We tasted it before it should have been eaten. It’s just not possible to let it sit there. Have Tiramisu, Will Eat! The couple of slices that were left to themselves for a few more hours tasted even better, I have to say.

As I type this, a SECOND pan of tiramisu is cooling in the fridge, I kid you not. I didn’t make the ladyfingers from scratch, though. One would think that with our addiction to this Italian dessert, we would have made it at some point in our lives. Up until this challenge, no one in the family has made it. We always ordered it. Daring Bakers has changed that and I bet we will be making this on a regular basis. By “we” I mean ME. I will labor on it for hours and we will consume it in minutes.

You will find the recipes from both the lovely sites I linked above. I will post an adapted and PDF recipe within the coming week. It is so very long so I’ll rewrite and reformat it so it’s not so daunting to print (or make)! I’ll also post more photos of the cake-making process tomorrow, while we watch the hockey game. Hehe. Go Canada! Addendum: They have not been posted because — who know the hockey game would be so close that I can’t even concentrate on anything but?! I was busy with the game and preparing food. Mmm…wings!

Tomorrow is the last day of the Olympics so rest assured regular posting will resume and the newsletter will be out soon! Watch out for that because we will be giving away those red Olympic mittens!

P.S. Much thanks to friend Adrienne who featured my tiramisu in her equally delicious culinary travel blog. If I ever go to Italy–to have a taste of real tiramisu, among numerous other gastronomic adventures–she will be my go-to person!

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Wordless Wednesday: Vancouver Olympics Edition

Vancouver Olympics 2010

Livecity Vancouver

Science World turned into Sochi House for the Olympics

Canada Pavilion

Outside of the Vancouver Public Library

Aboriginal Pavilion

Aboriginal Pavilion

Teatro Tatro Slovakia at the LiveCity Vancouver

Livecity Vancouver

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A note on Notes on Cooking

FoodBuzz is over and done, great experiences happened and greater memories retained.  Another great thing about FoodBuzz was the gift bags everyone was given at the show. One of the items we got, Notes on Cooking (Even cooler, it has it’s own website :p), and being a novice chef as far as industry is concerned, I wanted to read this cover to cover.

Notes on Cooking

Everything in this book is gold. Yes, there are sections that are pure common sense (Don’t double-dip tasting, don’t grab a hot pot with a wet towel, etc) and then there’s the more ‘HMMM…’ nuggets (Eat your local honey if you have floral allergies, cook with a little bit of sugar just as you would salt…). Of course, there were tips that you need to know to get your Food Handler’s Card (At least here in AZ): Cook food to proper internal temperatures, always be clean, little things like that. The best part as well, this is an entertaining fast read!

My next post will be about beef bourguignon and the trials I experienced with it. As I’m flipping through the book looking for inspiration of what to put into THIS post, I came across this little statement in the beginning of the book…“Making beef bourguignon? Study at least 3 alternatives….” Oops…I just sort of jumped right into the fire and prepared this.  I will let you know how it turned out in that post.

In short, “Notes on Cooking” is a must read for anyone wanting to become a better cook. Even after all the sections are done, there’s even more information that’s invaluable, such as a listing of traditional pairing of tastes and a recommended further reading.  Enjoy and happy reading!

-Daniel

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Macarons with Lemon Curd…and Why I Thought I’d Never Fall In Love (with Macs) Again

(name that song…)

What do you get when you fall in love?
Macs with no feet to burst your bubble
That’s what you get for your baking trouble
I’ll never fall in love again…

The first time I made macarons, it didn’t turn out too bad. I think I got it too easy. Meh…I’ve done it and that’s it!

In January, I told Deeba and Jamie (or did I beg?) I will be joining Mactweets for Mac Attack 4. I’ve had the book, I Love Macarons , since December and was curious to try the 2 main recipes there. I also thought to test my luck and see if it will pull me through another round of experimentation. Oh, boy, and did The Universe ever slap me back with a resounding ‘Better luck next time!’ and made me hate myself for undertaking numerous failed recipes. (The recipes from the tiny book above didn’t work out for me.)

Eight batches of macarons from different recipes later, here I am.

Macarons with Lemon Curd

Macarons with Lemon Curd

Yes, you read that right. I said EIGHT. 8!

Making macarons became torture and I asked myself several times — “ARE YOU I-N-S-A-N-E?” during those sad nights of baking.

What do you get when you fall in love…

I became desperate. Our deadline for posting for Mac Attack 4 is today and I had none to show for all my efforts as of yesterday. Before I headed to bed the other night (technically past midnight yesterday), I wailed tweeted about going for my eighth try, and feeling sorry for all the chickens I’ve failed (21 eggs!!!). Deeba gave me the link to the 2-egg-white recipe that she adapted from “Ottolenghi – The Cookbook”. I decided that I might as well try it because I have nothing else left to lose aside from 2 more eggs, putting my egg count to 23 as of last night.

I almost cried and danced when I saw feet about 6 minutes into baking time of the first tray in the oven.

Macarons with Lemon Curd

Dancings queens with dancing feet

Can you blame me for dramatic reaction? And the abundance of photos? I just need to remind myself that It’s okay! You did it! All those depressing night after night of macaruins are a thing of the past.

Macarons with Lemon Curd

True story: I think in my 3rd attempt, I ate a whole tray of baked macaron shells out of anger and frustration. Yep.

I didn’t put any other color or flavorings to the meringue cookie shells, but I made up for it with a very flavorful filling of lemon curd, inspired by my recent Key Lime Meringue Pie. I made lemon curd thickened with cornstarch. It was good, but not good enough to post. I still have to tweak the recipe to have a good flavor and consistency without tasting the cornstarch. I know, I know… The starchy taste wasn’t noticeable once it’s sandwiched between two shells, but I’d just be lying to myself if I say that it’s great. Do you have any suggestions to thicken the curd for the filling? I’d love to hear about it.

In my mind I wanted to have this macaron as a  miniature version of a Lemon Meringue pie: the meringue being the shell, and the lemon curd as filling. I’m happy with it, but I’m going to experiment more. I have renewed macaron baking confidence. Haha.

Aside from that pie concept, one of my other goals was to have no waste with the recipe. I had 2 egg yolks from the meringue recipe that went to the curd. If there’s one thing I learned from my macaron Hall of Shame, I’d say I’m done wasting eggs!

Macarons with Lemon Curd

This little piggy will go to the hennery to ask penance from the chickens we've failed.

The funny thing is, while I mixed the batter for the meringue, I knew this would work. Something about the texture, weight, and feel of it that made me think this one is different. Ah, lather, rinse, repeat.

And this is just the beginning of my Macaronicles: The Saga.

Mac Attack!

P.S. I forgot to mention that this month’s Mac Attack theme is Mac-A-Valentine and we’re supposed to have Valentine-inspired Macs. I’m not one to go with convention, and instead of something chocolate, I’d prefer the puckery lemon curd. Plus, nothing says ‘I love you’ more than never giving up and sticking with it through hell and back. Eight batches of failed macs in pursuit of the best. Now THAT’s what I call love. (Or martyrdom.)

Posted in baking, sweets36 Comments

Nutty Nutella Mochi: The Asian Ferrero Rocher

Nutella on crack — as in, Nutella made with more hazelnuts! Creamy, crunchy, and chewy Nutty Nutella Mochi (mochi = sticky rice cake) is like an Asian version of one of my guilty-pleasure chocolate, Ferrero Rocher. It’s very easy to make and lots of fun!

I used to be hooked on Ferrero Rocher as a child. I would have these gold foil-wrapped chocolates in my school bag and the pocket of my school uniform. When I discovered Nutella, it was like manna for my insatiable chocolate-loving young palate and definitely a much cheaper option than Ferrero Rocher. I would eat it mindlessly by the big spoonfuls (prior to Nutella, I consumed jar after jar of extra creamy peanut butter!). At some point I did learn to restrain myself…sometimes. Nutella lovers — you know what I mean, right? It’s just physically straining to not give in to the craving! Ha ha.

It is with glee that I will participate in World Nutella Day (hosted by these lovelies: Ms Adventures in Italy, Bleeding Espresso, and World Nutella Day) with this Japanese-inspired  treat:

Nutty Nutella Mochi or Asian Ferrero Rocher

Nutty Nutella Mochi: The Asian Ferrero Rocher

I’ve always wanted to make stuffed mochi (addendum: I grew up with mochi or sticky rice cake, but we just call them by different names in the Philippines), so I thought I’d combine that with Nutella. And guess what? They are perfect together!

It’s very easy to make. Crushed hazelnuts and nutella are combined, lumped into balls and placed in the freezer to keep its shape when molding the rice cake around it. The rice cake is a combination of glutinous (sweet) rice flour, water and a little sugar. A little food coloring if you want to make it interesting. You can add flavors as you wish. The resulting paste is zapped in the microwave for a couple of minutes and then the wrapping begins!

The stickiness is the tricky part and it’s easy to solve by keeping your hands and work surface generously floured. Put in the freezer again to set. And voila! You got yourself some Asian Ferrero Rocher to snack on. No spoon needed.

I loved this experiment so much that I’m going to make more over the weekend. This will be a fun Valentine’s treat for friends, family and lovahs.

Happy World Nutella Day and Happy Friday!

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Posted in chocolate, dessert, experiments, original Gourmeted recipe, sweets22 Comments

Key Lime Meringue Pie

I had long-shunned the pucker-ific sour Key lime pies until I made this. Lets just say that I’m now an enthusiastic convert of the Florida state pie. It is absolutely perfect in its balance of flavors, with the well-tempered tartness of the Key limes and a kiss of sweetness from the meringue. You will not regret the time you will spend to make it. I promise.

I’d lost any inclination to eat Key lime pie at any restaurant because I find them murderously sour, as if crushed with ascorbic acid tablets. Not my idea of a good dessert. I really thought that’s just the way it is. No offense to Key limes, but this was the reason I tend to cringe and do a 180° turn whenever I see them at the market.

Key limes

According to a Flickr friend, Key lime pies in the South are much better than the ones from the West Coast. Is this true? Where do you get your Key lime pies dear Southerners? And if you're from the West Coast like I am, have you found one that you truly love?

To truthfully and finally decide for myself on the matter of Key lime pies, I made it. I wanted to know if it really should taste so repulsive and need to be delegated as a Fear Factor eating challenge where you’re required to have a neutral face. This took me the whole night to make, but it was so worth it. This is what happens when you don’t thoroughly read the instructions and end up having dessert at 11am.

Key Lime Meringue Pie

Once again, The Craft of Baking made me overcome another fear: fear of eating key lime pie. The pie from DeMasco’s recipe was DIVINE. The sharp tartness of key limes were perfectly subdued in the silky curd with whipped cream–a beautiful marriage of flavors that simply made the long night of working in the kitchen less painful. The meringue was just a touch sweet, and with every bite of it with the curd and the crust, it’s perfection.

Key Lime Meringue Pie

Hi, I'm a Key Lime Pie convert.

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Posted in baking, dessert24 Comments