Archive | March, 2010

Chocolate Easter Surprise Eggs

Chocolate Easter Surprise Eggs

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There Is No Grater Love

[Hah...that's my lame attempt for a title.]

This, my friends, is the epitome of my ability to convince myself to purchase things that are even more expensive that their non-miniaturized versions:

Grater Bookmark

It costs more than a Microplane zester, and more than a Microplane grater. The hilarious fact is, it took me ages to get myself the (real) zester because I can be so cheap. Sometimes.

Guess how long it took for me to decide to buy this grater bookmark? Hmm?

A second.

I’m not the kind of friend who can protect you from shopping frivolously. It’s just not happening from my camp if I think something is cute or worth it. And how can this not be worth it, I tell you?

Grater Bookmark

I just about died from cuteness. Look at its sisters. There were only the grater and whisk bookmarks at the Vancouver Art Gallery, but the grater won. I’m proud to have enough self-control to buy only one. For now.

The company that designs/makes these irresistible bookmarks (and other fiiine stuff) is RAS in Madrid, Spain. The kitchen bookmarks are part of the pdl design collection. [PS - Gourmeted.com is not affiliated with them, but heck I'd love to if only for these bookmarks --haha. This could be the beginning of another obsession.]

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Parmesan Dinner Rolls

Parmesan Dinner Rolls

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Katie Kinser’s French Bread

Katie Kinser’s French Bread

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Light and Super Creamy No-Bake Cheesecake

Can you have a good cheesecake with just little sugar and no eggs? Can it be smooth and creamy, and melts in your mouth and before you could even think, you’ve already reached for your next bite? Why, yes and yes! Say hello to our family’s lifelong addiction: the no-bake cheesecake. This is also perfect for those who don’t like the heaviness of regular cheesecake. Perhaps you could even say it’s a tad better for indulgences, too. Maybe…I like to think that. -Joy

No-Bake Cheesecake

This is a personal invitation to try another favorite of our family. Signed, sealed, posted, it's yours to enjoy.

No-bake cheesecake and our family goes way, way back in the 80′s. My mother would spend Friday or Saturday nights on the dining table after dinner with her bowls, wooden spoons, stand mixer and springform pan to make cheesecake. The truth is, for the longest time I thought cheesecake was only made using my mom’s no-bake method. Hahaha.! Unfortunately, my mom doesn’t have the recipe anymore. I think everyone in our family will agree –that was gut-wrenchingly sad.

Uh, what are we going to do now?!

Sometime between my teenage years and our move to Canada, there was a cheesecake void in our household, we all got busy and us kids moved cities away for high school and university.

No-Bake Cheesecake

It wasn’t until 2002 or 2003 that I discovered (and had the inclination to make) a no-bake cheesecake recipe online. It didn’t quite taste like my mom’s but the methodology was close. I tweaked the ingredients until we were all satisfied with the taste. Then, at some point–GASP!–I lost the recipe. Gone. Not in my computer. Not in my mom’s. Our family friend, Tita Thess (go check her out, she makes gorgeous bead jewelry) even asked for the recipe many moons ago, but it turns out I never sent it to her. In between moving and traveling, and not being in the kitchen much, the recipe was gone. There was no trace of it.

….

For the longest time, I’ve put off creating a recipe from scratch to replicate my mom’s no-bake cheesecake because a) it’s so time-consuming to get the combination; and b) I almost had it and then I lost it! Exasperating to say the least. However, these are the things in life you just have to be grown up about and deal with–so I did. These were the only things I remembered it had and outlines my starting point:

  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
  • some amount of sour cream
  • some amount of Knox unflavoured gelatin
  • graham crackers
  • sugar
  • butter
  • lemon zest (god…that lemon zest that I would forever associate with cheesecake!)

It’s rather vague to say the least. I’m looking at my notes on my calendar (yes, I know) and it was still back in the beginning of February. And let’s just say that my weight is pretty much indicative of the amount of cheesecake I’ve consumed to reach until March to get the recipe right. I just can be so dedicated to finding a “solution” to my problem that I will not stop until everything is resolved — in this case, until the taste, texture and consistency is correct.

How hard could it be to come up with our “holy grail” recipe?

I got the recipe for the crust right the 1st try, but the cake was lumpy because of the difference in temperature between the dissolved gelatin and the cream cheese mixture. It tasted good (not the best–too sweet), but one never should have to associate cheesecake with the word lumpy (= lame).

No-Bake Cheesecake

It doesn't look like much right out of the pan, but for our family this elicits groans with, "Put the topping already!"

On the second try, the cheesecake tasted better (still not perfect), but the texture was smoother. However, the cheesecake held up so well it almost looked fake, like when you buy cheesecake at a cheap establishment and it’s almost like buying white Jell-O. Not good.

No-Bake Cheesecake

You can make it party-ready by using the smooth edge of a table knife to scrape and smooth the cheesecake. Works like a charm.

And then the third: melts-in-your-mouth no-bake cheesecake. And I made it again and again. And it’s done.

No-Bake Cheesecake

It IS as good as it looks.

   Get the recipe for the No-Bake Cheesecake now! (PDF download included)

Posted in cakes, coffee buddy, dessert, experiments, original Gourmeted recipe11 Comments

CIA’s Croissant Dough

CIA’s Croissant Dough

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Ottolenghi’s Carrot Walnut Cake

Ottolenghi’s Carrot Walnut Cake

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Eggplant and Chard Lasagne and Being a Reluctant Gardener

In case you’re in the mood for lasagne, and up for something different, try this Eggplant and Chard Lasagne. Yes, it’s vegetarian and it’s incredibly good in a Wow-That’s-Vegetarian?! kind of way. I served it to a group of carnivores who whined (a little) before tasting it. They shut up after the first bite. Then, the rest of the lasagna was history…gone with the skeptic wind.

Eggplant and Chard Lasagne

I really, really wish you could taste this right now!

Eating what I consider a “balanced” diet

I do love my chocolates, high-fat Irish butter, desserts and everything sweet, so I try to balance them out with oatmeal or 2% greek yogurt in the mornings, and vegetable/fruit-rich dishes the rest of the day [Keep in mind: I try, but it doesn't always happen.]. Having said that, I also don’t see the point of dreading a lackluster meal only to make myself feel better with too much dessert. And let’s face it–it’s way easier to keep eating dessert…so very easy. I want to eat with a good diet in mind, but I don’t want to eat like I’m missing out. I’m with the camp who believes that eating healthier shouldn’t mean resigning to eating food that taste like crap.

After having cooked several recipes from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone, I couldn’t recommend it enough for anyone thinking of putting more vegetable dishes on their tables. Remember the split pea soup? Yum! This lasagne? Oh my. It’s another winning combination, and I can’t believe I’ve never used chard and eggplant together like this, it’s so deviously simple.

I wasn’t quite sure how it would taste from the recipe, to be honest, but knowing that my fellow food blogging pal Dana made it before was the extra assurance I needed to feel at ease making this for the first time and serving it to hungry non-vegetarian bellies.

And you know what? It was a smashing success of a pasta dish. If you taste this, you won’t say: “This tastes good for vegetarian…” It is awesome. Period. No need to label it as “vegetarian” as an excuse for its taste. I know what it’s like. I used to wince whenever someone said the V-word. I die a little each time then, if I want to be dramatic about it. But this. Oh, I love it! I’ve no qualms about serving it to anyone. I plan to serve this at my next birthday party, and it won’t need the usual introduction of, “That’s vegetarian, FYI.”

Eggplant and Chard Lasagne

Dig in.

It tastes like lasagne (in case you’re wondering). It’s not too leafy, not too rich. It’s filling, but it won’t weigh you down–y’know that feeling with pasta that’s bloated you can barely look at it before thinking there’s just no way I could eat that? I was quite surprised at how good eggplant was in between sheets of pasta, and really being good friends with wilted chard. Mmmm…mmm!

So the question is: would I pick this over the conventional lasagne if I had the choice? YES! Oh, heck, YES!

Truly, I love the dish as is, but something’s missing. With the beginning of spring, I can’t help but think of how it could be better with garden-fresh eggplants and chard. Yeah, I’m going to go all oogly-vegetably on you now.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, a-gardening we go!

I won’t lie. I don’t have a green thumb (although he says there is no such thing) and gardening became obliterated from my thinking process before I reached my teens. Gardening wha’? Before that, I enjoyed mostly third-party gardening. I was perfectly content with watering the plants and removing/cutting the occasional dried stem or leaf. The major dig-ins, I just watch while others do it. My forte was harvesting and eating the fruits/vegetables, or cutting flowers and leaves to put in vases for our rooms. Very nice.

This year, I want to overcome my fear of soil–of earthworms, in particular–and start a small garden in the backyard. I used to live in a building complex where the yard consisted of rocks and manicured lawns and trees tended on an almost-daily basis by gardeners. You can’t plant. Not that it mattered at the time. Now that I’m back in the ‘burbs of Vancouver, there is actually a yard to play with.

Gulp.

I fear the yard. All it looks to me is more work when I could be tweeting instead! I’m so inspired by Kristina and Kristina‘s gardens. [Hah! Did I confuse you? Raise your hand if your name is Kristina and you garden. I see a pattern here.] I hope I’m not setting myself up for failure. We’ll see. I’ll try.

I mean…really, I will. Just thinking of having fresh produce from my own garden makes me happy. And I know that sounds like the geekiest food-related thing I’ve said. Help.

Do you have any tips for a newbie gardener like me? Can you share links/resources or books/primers to read?

I want to have a vegetable garden and eat the fruits of my labor. Hopefully, we can get soil this weekend. And no, I have not read a single book on gardening. Can gardening knowledge be–hold your breath–organic? :D

Get the recipe for Eggplant and Chard Lasagne (includes PDF)

Posted in books and publications, cheese, healthier choices, main dishes, pasta, vegetables, vegetarian4 Comments

Blueberry-Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

This isn’t Nanay’s (grandmother) original recipe, but it’s pretty close. I really wish I had the foresight to ask for it when I was 8. Led only by my taste memory, I baked my way through numerous ingredient combinations in my long quest to replicate this taste. It was only 7 years ago that I felt I finally got it right, and my family and friends have been enjoying it since then. I miss her a lot, but baking these cookies brings me back to Nanay’s kitchen where it all began.

Blueberry-Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

If this looks familiar to you, then that means you’re subscribed to our newsletter. Yes,  these cookies were featured in our January 2010 issue. [Plug: It's free and features content previously unpublished on the blog. :)]

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Yesterday, in an effort to make time for myself minus work and the internet, I did a little shopping downtown and went for coffee by my lonesome (sometimes, it’s good to be left to your own thoughts).

Hockey Gold

Literally...hockey gold (taken in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery)

I blog to relax, which is what I do on some nights. Most of the time, all I really need is to step out and enjoy some fresh air to get a jump start from the creative lull. I went home with pages full of ideas, an iPhone photo (Above. Thankfully, gold has nothing to do with any of the designs.) and a clear head ready to engage in more problem solving. Speaking of work, I’ve been asked a couple of times if (food) blogging is my job. It’s not. Wouldn’t that be nice, though? Cook and bake, take photos, talk about and research food, and get paid well. Hold that thought.

Cooking and baking are “newer” passions to me compared to blogging (for most of you, it’s the complete opposite). I didn’t really get into them until a few years ago. In fact, I was only inclined exceedingly desperate to make things that I crave for from childhood, like leche flan, cheese cake and my grandma’s oatmeal cookies. The cookie recipe here is probably the first one I worked on and patiently tweaked to my liking…to my memory of these cookies from decades ago. I’ve made these more times than I can count. These cookies have been given away and mailed overseas. I used to bring these to share with my classmates in programming and I didn’t divulge the recipe even when begged for it. My god, can you imagine? I would kick my former self. Obviously, I’ve done a 180 and I keep no secret recipes anymore. Ask, and you will receive. This blog and the food blogging community has really changed the way we share food we love.

Be sure to let me know if you make these. I’d love to get some feedback! Happy baking!

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Raspberry Ginger Ice Cream Float

Raspberry Ginger Ice Cream Float

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