Archive | February, 2011

Danish Water Kringle | A Game in Wrestling with the M-Word

A friend and I were just discussing the virtues of butter. To be more precise, I was oozing with my love for butter and in a mission to convince her (friend, not butter) that it is worth the sacrifice of fat when it comes to baking. Forget about the fat, think of the flavor! Omg, do it for the children. [Hmmm…children of the dairy fat?] Jokes aside, I told her I would rather use real butter and eat in moderation than let the integrity of the recipe suffer.

Oh, here it comes….words I would have to eat.

After all my Hail Butter! Hail Butter! I found another test of my love for it. Imagine seeing the LA Times recipe for Water Kringle and searching for the butter in the recipe and being face-planted with more than half a pound of…M-MM…M-Margarine. And not a single trace of butter.  Oh, my.

What’s a girl who’s never bought it or touched it in over a decade to do? Run out for some before her midnight baking spree? I put on my stubborn hat and told the recipe that it will have to do with butter. And while I was at it, I also took the liberty of omitting the vanilla custard or thick custard crème. Just because…

Sometimes I offer my sacred flours to failure experimentation. Behold, Exhibit A:

Water Kringle Deconstructed

Lightly flavored cinnamon bread with delicious brown butter cinnamon praline never looked so good, yet disappointing and humbling. I didn’t even continue to make the frosting and proceeded to gnaw at my defeat with a cup of coffee. Yes, the filling escaped! ACK!

All the hard work and mess of a counter looked so promising, too.

This weekend, we shall meet again, Danish pastry. I’ll come armed with margarine and custard. If you guys want to bake along with me, the recipe is here.

So what are you planning to make this weekend? Are you trying to conquer a particular recipe like I am?

Posted in baking, coffee buddy, dessert, experiments5 Comments

Lemon Curd and Shortbread Bars

Just a couple of announcements before we get to the golden luscious bars:

Aaaand…back to our regular programming…

Weeks ago I accidentally found some Meyer lemons at the Granville Island Market. I stopped dead in my tracks in disbelief. You’d think I won a mini lottery as my eyes bugged while picking up a bag. A lot of my California friends on Twitter talk so highly of these lemons, making me envy Kristina, who has a Meyer lemon tree in her backyard. I asked my Twitter friends what to do with 5 precious lemons and went with the popular suggestion: Meyer lemon curd. It’s so simple to make (check out Robyn’s method of making curd) that I couldn’t resist. That, and it was discussed like people were talking about liquid gold. To make the long story short: it was spoonfuls of zesty sunshine that I want to eat nonstop. I did manage to wean myself, leaving a little over 1 3/4 cups to freeze for later use.

Fast forward to Monday when I finally had time to think of what to make with them. What could be fitting for my pucker-inducing citrus curd? Then I remembered coming across a recipe Lemon Bars on Brown Butter Shortbread in the Tartine cookbook. I used the shortbread part and added oat flour instead of pine nuts — because I have a bazillion bags of oat flour. Don’t ask.

It ended up so incredibly good that I’m getting requests for more shortbread and fruit curd variations.

I love a good crust! The shortbread paired with an equal amount of lemon curd is a marriage of flavors and textures that is sure to be a keeper. Some people prefer thicker “filling”, but for the Meyer lemon curd, equal amounts, is perfect.

These bars are easy to make, so don’t even hesitate to make it. :-)

Get the Lemon Curd & Shortbread Bars recipe

Posted in dessert, make-ahead, snacks, sweets, tarts5 Comments

Jan Hagels | Cinnamon Almond Wafers | Dutch Almond Cookies

You know the type…the type of recipes that don’t quite wow you, but are worthy to take note of because it has the beginnings of something much better. This is one of those recipes. It’s like a flaky sugar cookie spread on a cookie sheet and topped with cinnamon sugar and sliced almonds. If you do not have a sweet tooth and/or need something to go with your light tea, then this could be one of the better contenders for you sugar-limited bite.

Fresh out of the oven and with just a glass of warm water (can I remind you that I bake after midnight and that I drink water before bed?), it was good! The next morning, the taste was almost like a buttery version of graham crackers, plus the cinnamon and nuts. I like it. Some didn’t care for it. It’s not something they would ask from me again, and definitely not something they would look forward to receiving. My  nephews, on the other hand, enjoyed noshing on them. I know these mostly sound too unfavorable for these cookies, but I do believe that given a few changes, this could be everybody’s new favorite cookie before they even realize it was the one they looked down upon.

So why am I even mentioning this to you if this is not “the best” yet? Two reasons:

(1) You might actually like it as is! Jan Hagels is a traditional Dutch cookie that is close to the hearts of a lot of people. I’ve looked online and it seems that these little cookies have been part of a lot of families’ holiday traditions. Like I said earlier, if you are not too much into the sweet stuff, this could be all the sugar quota for dessert or snack you will need. And…

(2) Perhaps you would like to try it and find inspiration into transforming it into another recipe. I, for one, think that a variation of this could make for a great crust under fruit or nut bars. I’m even thinking of making it into a sandwich cookie. The dough itself could hold a host of different flavors, and sturdy enough to hold crushed nuts (yum). I’m all for experimenting with food and within the next few weeks I will have a date again with this recipe, hoping for a spark of yumminess.

I almost forgot to tell you that what lured me into baking these at 2:00 am was how easy it was to make. The ingredients are easy to find, if they’re not already in your pantry, and you could possibly even make it with kids. This cute Ikea baking set comes to mind just for the occasion.

At the end of the day or week, when the cinnamon lover in you is looking for a quick and easy bite, give this recipe a try. Wrap them up in parchment with a box of tea for a dear friend. Pack them up to share at work. Or on a day like today, when you’ve had enough of Valentine sweets, these Dutch Almond cookies would be a welcome break from all that!

   Get the recipe for Jan Hagels

Posted in baking, cookies11 Comments

Everyday Should Be Love Day

I’ve been making cupcakes like there’s no tomorrow. I set myself to the task of creating cupcakes that make me groan in goodness. I’m almost there. So the past few days feels like a red letter day where I stuff myself in cupcakes. Ha! Hope you’re enjoying yourself silly, too — with or without someone.

Posted in dailies3 Comments

Wordless Wednesday | Sipping Chocolate

Posted in chocolate, wordless Wednesday1 Comment

New York Style Crumb Cake

Before I picked up the new “Baked Explorations” cookbook, coffee and crumb cakes meant the same thing to me and I order them faithfully at coffee shops. Color me surprised when I read that there is something called a New York Style Crumb Cake, and it must never, ever, be confused with coffee cake. Honestly, I thought the crumbs were just a matter of preference! Until, of course, I saw the recipe. For sure I thought it must be a joke that the crumb part had more than 2 cups of sugar. Who does that on purpose? During this time of the year when eating healthy seems to be at its height, whoa, I was on sugar death watch alert. But. I trusted the recipe. I gave the authors the benefit of the doubt and let them have it their way with their cake. The sacrificial lamb. And should this had been a failure, you will never hear of it from me because I will give away the book.

As you can tell, it ended well and the crumb cake survived the scrutiny of family and friends, again and again. The crumb was a toss for me — although it was delish, others thought the base cake itself was the true winner and they would have it any day — flavorful, filling and moist even after 3 days. It actually tastes like puto, the light brown steamed rice cake that we eat in the Philippines. I’ve made many variations of this crumb cake and even so far as ‘ruining’ the crumb, slashing it in half and playing with my own ingredients. In all its incarnations in the kitchen, it had withstood the test of many variations. And that, my friends, is a good thing. Because no matter what you prefer, this cake will work for you.

The recipe makes a large cake and begs to be packed on its merry way to a lot of willing bellies. Go ahead, don’t be shy! It’s a total charmer. In fact, yesterday, a soaking wet Vancouver day, I met up with a few friends and gave a few slices to each of them. They were heartily received and from the messages I’ve received today — they were all devoured and enjoyed to the fullest.

Go forth and bake and share! Have a great weekend!

If you’re looking for something beefy to cook this winter weekend: check out my Asian Style Beef Chili with Garlic Fried Rice! And get a chance to win $100 from Canadian Beef, too!

   Get the recipe for New York-Style Crumb Cake

Posted in baking, books and publications, cakes, coffee buddy, sweets20 Comments

Wordless Wednessday | Punk Metal

Posted in photography, travel, wordless Wednesday0 Comments

Chili Con Coco Loco | Asian Style Beef Chili with Garlic Fried Rice

And so it is, the first month of the year is almost over. The newness of 2011 has worn out and although the thrill ride of the holidays is definitely tucked beneath shadows of gift wrappers past, I couldn’t be more excited to finally let you know what’s been cooking up in my kitchen! Casey, the talented force behind Kitchen Play, organizes monthly events that bring bloggers and PR professionals together — in the name of food and all things food-related. Several weeks ago she informed me there will be an all-Canadian Kitchen Play eventand would I want to join? Uhm, yes!

I was curious to find out which company or organization we will be working with and what “secret ingredient” participants will be asked to use for the recipes. My anxiousness beefed up (hah!) while I waited for more details from Casey. A few days later, she revealed that we would be sponsored by no other than the Canadian Beef (www.beefinfo.org). Smile.

Would you like to “play” along with us in the kitchen?

Try any recipe for this month’s Kitchen Play — go crazy and put your own twist!– for a chance to win $100 from Canadian Beef. So what are you waiting for?
(Please refer to the complete contest rules.)

I love beef. I love my steaks. Ribs. Even offal. My assignment was to create an original entree recipe using, yes, beef! Wheels started turning and one of my initial recipes consisted of tender cuts, but quite expensive. After testing it,  I realized that won’t fly on a regular weekday meal; not even on a weekend. The truth is, I would have filet mignon with salt and pepper cooked medium rare with some sizzling butter and sauteed mushrooms on a regular basis . I’ll also take grilled wine-marinated top blade steaks. Given a good quality piece of meat, I will just let its amazing flavor and texture dazzle me. However, this is not the time to go down the beaten path and there is definitely more to beef than grilling steaks! I wanted to create something that’s different from the norm, but still hopefully a dish that everyone can enjoy.

Heather (Travis), the Beef Information Center‘s director of Public Relations, told me that they are open to any and all ideas. I like that. If you know me, I will go there. After experimenting with one idea after another, and eating one mistake after another (yes, I end up with disappointing meals, too!), I took several deep breaths… Beef is hearty. It’s filling. When done right, it makes a world of difference between blah meat and a cleaned out plate that begs for more. I wanted that feeling from my dish. It’s odd how recipes start out in my head. For this main course, the goal was to get that feeling of eating something so good you sit back and unconsciously rub your belly out of happiness and satisfaction. Plus, it’s winter, so I was looking for that element of heat. Soup. Spice. To keep the cold away.

I decided on some chili. But what can I do to it? I sure love the different textures when I make it with ground meat and chunks to chew on, and the heartiness a good chili brings. However, given my Asian roots and upbringing, I still admittedly look for flavors of home: coconuts, coconut milk, lime (in the Philippines we have a citrus called calamansi)…

So. What if?

This isn't your usual chili.

What if, with careful manipulation of the ingredients, I can make this North American favorite with an Asian twist? Do I go there? Do I dare put coconut milk in my chili? Yes, yes yes!

Beef goes really well with coconut milk, which goes hand in hand with chili. How about a double kick from chipotle chili and sriracha? The flavor is full, but I didn’t like the taste to lose its novelty, so let’s add a burst of freshness from cilantro.

A spritz of lime.

Finish it off with warm garlic rice. I would go so far as to eat it with coconut garlic rice. Wow.

Rinse, repeat.

Was that a Chili con Coco? Chili con Coco Loco?

A creamy and refreshing hearty chili. Who knew?

Ooh, and what is that something else you taste? You can’t really figure it out, but it’s there.  You’ll just have to scroll down and check the recipe! There are a couple of things you might not expect in this chili, but trust me, they make it so good. :-)

As I sit back and relax, and enjoy a full belly of chili goodness, I hope you’ll try it. It’s now my new favorite chili.

Thank you again to our sponsor, Canadian Beef, and Kitchen Play for letting us “play” in the kitchen to bring you new ways to enjoy beef in your meals. And don’t forget, you can join us for this month’s event by cooking along for a chance to win $10o from Canadian Beef!


   Get the recipe for Asian Style Beef Chili with Garlic Fried Rice

Posted in Asian dish, beef, events, original Gourmeted recipe12 Comments