Archive for May, 2010

Watermelonade

May 24, 2010

Watermelonade

Summer’s here (at least according to the temperatures), and our eyes are peeled for refreshing beverages for picnics, barbecues and general outdoor consumption.

Watermelonade is a delicious alternative to lemonade.  You can easily adjust this recipe to make as little or as much as you’d like.  We bought an 20 lb. watermelon and ended up using just half of it to make a jug and a half of juice.

One other note: you can make this recipe ahead (in fact, we find it tastes better the next day), but it does separate so make sure you give it a good shake or two before serving.

(more…)

Advertisements

Bialys

May 23, 2010

IMG_1374
Back in February when Adam and I went to New York, we had hoped to make it out to Kossar’s for bialys. I’d never had one, but Adam described them to me as “a bagel without a hole… with onions where the hole would be.” Sounded like my kind of thing.

Of course, in Toronto you can’t even find them despite a high Jewish population, which is why we were excited when we came across Smitten Kitchen‘s recipe. Meanwhile, up in the ‘burbs, my mother-in-law stumbled across the same recipe and sent it to me. We decided this would be a great bonding exercise and invited her over on Saturday to make bialys with us. My mother-in-law is a great cook and baker, but it’s rare that she experiments as much with things like homemade bialys (or baguettes… or ice cream… or any of the other silly fun things we like to experiment with). So we invited her over to be a part of the process.

(more…)

Coconut Layer Cake

May 11, 2010

IMG_1152

Apparently we are all about cakes and desserts lately.

Mother’s Day fell just a few short days after Adam’s birthday, and we hosted Adam’s parents to celebrate. Adam’s mom is a huge fan of coconut, so I was on the lookout for good coconut-based desserts. My friend Betsy (who is a much more innovative baker than I am… I’m trying to convince her to start her own baking blog, in fact) sent me this recipe to try. She highly highly recommended it – said she’d made it before and it was always a big hit. Good enough for me!

And boy am I glad I listened to Betsy. Such a good cake! Not particularly complicated and full of really yummy things. The frosting was *amazing*, though it was a bit difficult to work with as it was quite soft. Next time I might add a bit more powdered sugar to it to try to stiffen it up a bit (that would work, right?), but my lack of experience frosting giant layer cakes certainly had a lot to do with the final frosting job. It’s especially tough to get shredded coconut to stick to the sides. Perhaps I should’ve tried Betty Crocker’s method of rolling the cake into the coconut, but I was afraid of it completely falling apart given how much filling is in the middle of the cake (a full cup of frosting AND a full cup of shredded coconut!). I didn’t trust myself to not have a big disaster if I tried that.

(more…)

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

May 7, 2010

…Or, Happy Birthday, Adam!

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

Yesterday was my dear husband’s 29th birthday. Unfortunately this date happened to fall on what was scheduled to be the longest workday ever for him, as a few tight deadlines were imposed that couldn’t be changed. He was pretty bummed. Normally we make a pretty big point of celebrating our birthdays, and like to do special things, but Adam’s proposed schedule of 8:30am until 10 or 11pm at night meant there wasn’t a whole lot we could do.

So, I schemed a bit. I gathered a few things and sent him to work with a “Survival Kit” which included a ton of candy, some pretzels, a Pac-Man energy drink, a funny card from me, and one from the cats. That was my way of trying to make his birthday a little sweeter, or so he thought.

(more…)

Spanakopita

May 5, 2010

IMG_1131
We’ve made this one before, and each time we make it we wonder why we don’t cook with phyllo more often. Such an easy and wonderful dish filled with amazing spinach flavour, salty feta and creamy ricotta cheese. The onion and garlic adds a nice balance, and the phyllo ends up perfectly every time. Of course, buying the ready made frozen phyllo makes it a no-brainer. I can’t say I’ve attempted the phyllo-from-scratch thing… yet.

And while fresh spinach is certainly nice, frozen spinach works just as well – making it even easier.

Our friends Adam and Emily helped us out with this one as we made it for the same meal as the 40-clove chicken and baguettes, so I was a bit preoccupied. They laid out layers of dough and brushed oil like pros! It’s really handy to have someone else do all of the work on something in your own kitchen. Come over anytime, guys!

(more…)

Hello, Le Creuset. Meet Chicken & Garlic Stew.

May 3, 2010

IMG_1095

Many of our friends marvel at our kitchen and the wide array of gadgets and appliances large and small that we seem to have at hand.  Truth is, there are always more items on our list and a Le Creuset Dutch Oven has been near the top for some time.

Initially, it was very difficult for us to justify spending the money.  We looked into various other brands, such as Mario Batali and Le Cuistot, but based on the research it seemed that Le Creuset really was the cream of the crop.  We took the plunge on Friday and purchased a 6 3/4-quart Dutch Oven from Williams-Sonoma after being alerted of a 20% off sale of discontinued colours.  Who knows?  If we take good enough care of this piece, maybe our children and even our grandchildren will get as much use out of it as we hope to (because clearly the love of cooking is a genetic trait).

Which left us with the big question of what to cook.  We’ve already expressed our love of Mark Bittman and his How To Cook Everything series.  One of his chicken recipes calls for a Dutch Oven and puts a spin on the classic 40-cloves of garlic chicken.  Who can pass up 40-cloves of garlic (in the end, I think we used a lot more garlic than was called for, especially when you consider that we used elephant garlic).

(more…)

Homemade Baguette

May 2, 2010

IMG_1130

Adam and I have been baking our own bread with the help of our bread maker for about 3 1/2 years, but we’ve rarely had the guts to try a loaf without it. Sure, we will take the dough out sometimes to shape challah or hamburger buns, but we still rely on the bread maker to do the tough parts.

It definitely does have its limitations though. It never gets the bread quite bakery-like, and baguettes are a prime example. We wanted that crisp, air bubble filled stick of bread goodness. And thanks to King Arthur Flour’s website, we did just that! They give very helpful step-by-step instructions.

The process is a long one – but not very complicated. We started the night before by making a simple flour-water-yeast starter, and once it got bubbly (after about 14 hours), mixed in some more flour, water, salt, and yeast. My fear of kneading dough resulted in me using our stand mixer, which did a great job. After a few more hours of rising, shaping, and rising again, it was ready to go into the oven. Their blog really lays it out for you in detail – so definitely check it out.

The result? A wonderfully crisp baguette that would have been fine without any butter or oil. We dipped it in a delicious garlicky sauce from a chicken dish (post here). The only change at all is I would lesson the baking time a smidge. The bottom got a wee bit too dark. Oh, and oddly enough the baguette pans we bought ended up with a less crispy crust than the plain cookie sheet one. I guess we won’t use those again.

Regardless – definitely definitely definitely something we will make again!

IMG_1121