Sunday, February 28, 2010

All-In-One Holiday Bundt Cake

As I'm sure many of you know, I cannot say enough good things about Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home To Yours. A recent favourite of mine from her cookbook is the all-in-one holiday bundt cake - spices, pumpkin, apple, cranberry and pecans. I wasn't sure how they would all work together, but trusted Dorie and of course it was delicious. The cake is so yummy, moist, and flavourful. I've made it a couple of times and would say that adults love it, but kids/teenagers might not feel the same - maybe it's the spice and/or the lack of chocolate? I know I'll be making this cake many more times, and I want to try modifying it a bit to make it healthier so I can eat it more often.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake
Cinnamon Swirl Buttermilk Pound Cake
Maple-Walnut Cake
Plum Sour Cream Kuchen

All-In-One Holiday Bundt Cake
Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 1/4 sticks (10 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 large apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9 to 10 inch (12 cup) Bundt pan. Don't place the pan on a baking sheet - you want the oven's heat to circulate freely through the Bundt's inner tube.

Whisk together the flours, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and ground ginger.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars together at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each addition. Beat int he vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the pumpkin and chopped apple - don't be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Still on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. With a rubber spatula, stir in the cranberries and pecans. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the rubber spatula.

Bake for 60 to 70 minutes (mine took 50 minutes), or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding, then cool to room temperature on the rack.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ginger Roasted Winter Vegetables

Here's a super simple recipe when you want to do something a little different with your vegetables but don't want to expend too much effort or have to go to the grocery store. The vegetables are roasted in a mixture of maple syrup, olive oil, ginger, and salt. I expected the vegetables to be more "dry" which is what I'm used to with roasted vegetables, but because of the large amount of sauce/glaze poured on, they remain quite soft and moist. If you want them to be more dry, or just want to use less maple syrup and oil, reduce the amounts to 2 tablespoons each. I like roasting up a big batch of vegetables and using it with various things throughout the week.

The way Abby has her ears in this photo make her look like an alien cat or something.

You know what skill I wish I had - cutting vegetables so that they're all the same size. I think I'm too impatient when I'm cooking and just want to get it all chopped. It doesn't make a difference in the end (as long as they're all about the same size) but I love how perfectly diced vegetables look.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Indian Stir Fried Cabbage
Tarragon Pecan Asparagus
Sesame Beets
Herbed Cauliflower with Capers & Lemon
Carribean Roasted Vegetables

Ginger Roasted Winter Vegetables
Adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance

I think you could reduce the maple syrup and oil to 2 tbsp each, especially if you want more of a dry roasted vegetable.

1 lb parsnips (about 2 average size), washed, peeled, and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
2 large carrots, washed, peeled, and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
1 lb sweet potatoes (about 3 medium size), peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
2 heaping tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl combine all ingredients, make sure all veggies are well coated. (Of course you can do this directly on your baking sheet if you want but it can be a bit messy.)

Place the veggies in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. If they don't all fit you may need to use 2 baking pans and rotate the pans halfway through baking. If there is an extra liquid, pour it over the veggies.

Bake for 25 minutes. Removef rom oven and flip the veggies. Bake for 20 or so more minutes, until the veggies are tender inside.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

300th Post! And Sour Cream Doughnuts

Heart shaped sour cream doughnuts!

Wow this is my 300th post! What better way to celebrate that than with doughnuts? My friend and I got together last week to bake and decided on doughnuts - something I've always wanted to make but was a bit scared, because for some reason they seemed daunting and difficult, and I was also frightened at the amount of oil I'd have to use. Well it turns out, doughnuts are extremely easy to make. It did use a lot of oil (probably 2 cups of oil per batch) but it's a small price to pay for delicious fresh doughnuts. We decided on two kinds - beignet souffles and sour cream doughnuts (my favourite!)

Beignet souffles in random shapes

The beignet souffles turned out okay. It was fun piping the dough directly into the hot oil, but the relatively small icing tip we used resulted in very skinny doughnuts instead of nice fat ones. And these doughnuts are definitely only good on the day they're made.

Next were the sour cream doughnuts which were perfect and everything I could have hoped for in a homemade doughnut! Nice slightly crispy edges, perfect cakey insides. So very insanely addictive. The only thing I'd keep in mind next time is to not have the dough too thick because the ones that were too thick didn't get cooked completely on the very middle. Not that it really stopped me from eating them. I'm super happy we made doughnuts, but I don't think I'll make doughnuts again anytime soon - for me they're kind of like croissants, I'm really happy I've made them but don't need to make them very often. Though I think I'd like to try this sour cream doughnut recipe baked.

Can you tell that the doughnut holes are heart shaped? I preferred the doughnut holes to the doughnuts!

The original recipe has cinnamon and orange zest but my friend was wary so we just kept them plain. You could easily modify the recipe to whatever flavours you like. We also opted not to glaze them because they were already perfect as is but you could easily fancy these up with glazes, streusels, chocolate ganache, etc. A coffee sour cream doughnut with a white chocolate ganache sounds good to me. Oh and I totally won my friend over into loving sour cream doughnuts.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Plum Sour Cream Kuchen
Croissant Pockets with Apricots and Brie
Orange Cream Cheese Muffins
Cinnamon Swirl Buttermilk Pound Cake

Sour Cream Doughnuts
Adapted from Bon App├ętit | October 2004

Use a clip-on deep-fry thermometer to gauge the oil temperature when frying these doughnuts: too low and they'll absorb oil, turning leaden and soggy; too high and they'll burn before the insides are cooked through.

The recipe says it will yield 24 doughnuts and 24 doughnut holes, but we got 12 doughnuts and 12 doughnut holes.

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter, cooled briefly
1 cup sour cream

Canola oil (for deep-frying)

Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs in large bowl until very thick, about 3 minutes. Beat in orange peel and vanilla. Gradually beat in butter; beat in sour cream in 2 additions. Gently fold in dry ingredients in 4 additions (dough will be slightly sticky). Cover; set aside 1 hour.

Sprinkle 2 rimmed baking sheets lightly with flour. Press out 1/3 of dough on lightly floured surface to 1/2- to 2/3-inch thickness. Using 2 1/2-inch-diameter round cutter, cut out dough rounds. Arrange on floured sheets. Repeat with remaining dough in 2 more batches. Gather all dough scraps. Press out dough; cut out more dough rounds until all dough is used.

Using 1-inch-diameter round cutter, cut out center of each dough round to make doughnuts and doughnut holes.

Line 2 baking sheets with several layers of paper towels. Pour oil into large deep skillet to depth of 1 1/2 inches. Attach deep-fry thermometer and heat oil to 365°F to 370°F. Fry doughnut holes in 2 batches until golden brown, turning once, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels. Fry doughnuts, 3 or 4 at a time, until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels. Cool doughnuts and doughnut holes completely.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chocolate Chunk Vanilla Muffins

I don't usually watch really any of the Olympics but since it's in Vancouver I'm watching as much as I can! And learning lots of interesting things about the different sports and athletes. We went and saw the cauldron/torch and next week will go check out the Olympic village. So much is going on in Vancouver right now!

I love chocolate chip muffins but never buy them or make them because I guess I want to pretend that muffins are healthy, and if there's chocolate in there it makes it a bit harder! But I wanted to bake something to bring to friends with a new baby, and who doesn't like chocolate muffins? These ones were yummy and soft. I love coarse sugar on top of muffins, mmm. My only disappointment was that they didn't taste more strongly of vanilla so next time I would add more.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Orange Cream Cheese Muffins
Snickerdoodle Muffins
Orange Berry Muffins
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Chocolate Chunk Vanilla Muffins
Adapted from Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More

Makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, spooned in and leveled (I used 197 g.)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, slightly firm
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
3.5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

4 tsp coarse sugar

1. Position the rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners, or grease the pans.

2. In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

3. Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla and mix on medium speed until smooth and lightened in colour, about 1 minute.

4. Add the granulated sugar and mix for 1 minute longer. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, and mix for another minute.

5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream, dividing the dry ingredients into two parts, starting and ending with the flour. Mix just until blended after each addition. Fold in the chocolate chunks.

6. Portion the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with coarse sugar.

7. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. To ensure even baking, toward the end of baking time, rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Szechuan Tofu Triangles in Triple Pepper Sauce

Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Chinese New Year! I just realized the dish I'm posting is fitting because it's inspired by Chinese cuisine! I would love to learn how to cook more Asian cuisines like Chinese and Japanese, but I'm not really sure where a good resource would be, especially since I'm looking for things that are vegetarian or can easily be adapted. Any recommendations? This Szechuan tofu in pepper sauce is probably not very authentic but was good. I think next time I'd add extra garlic, green onions, black pepper and maybe throw in some ginger too. It's really simple and would make a great weeknight meal.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Honey Mustard Marinated Tofu
Fried Rice with Scallions, Edamame and Tofu
Lemon Miso Tofu and Eggplant
Udon Noodles with Peanut Sauce and Seitan

Szechuan Tofu Triangles in Triple Pepper Sauce
Adapted from The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest

Makes 6 servings

1 1/2 lbs extra firm tofu
1 tbsp oil
1/2 cup dry sherry or white wine
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 3/4 cups water
1/4 cup plus 1 tsp vinegar (cider or rice)
3 tbsp honey (substitute sugar to make it vegan)
8 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dry mustard
4 tbsp cornstarch
3 cups chopped onion (1 inch chunks)
1 medium yellow bell pepper, in strips
1 medium red bell pepper, in strips
1/2-1 tsp salt
crushed red pepper, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 scallions, minced (whites and greens)

1. Cut the tofu into triangles.

2. Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in a wok or skillet until it is hot enough to bounce a drop of water. Fry the tofu triangles for a few minutes on each side until their outer surfaces crispen. Set aside on a plate.

3. In a medium sized saucepan, combine sherry/wine, soy sauce, water, vinegar, honey, garlic and dry mustard. Heat it until it almost boils; remove from heat. Place the cornstarch in a small bowl, and pour in some hot liquid, whisking until it dissolves. Whisk this back into the saucepan. Keep the whisk in there - you'll need it.

4. Heat the woke or skillet again. Add the remaining oil, and cook the onion over high heat for about 2 minutes. Add bell peppers, salt and red and black pepper, and cook for about 2 minutes longer. Gently stir in the tofu triangles.

5. Whisk the sauce (from step 3) to reintegrate the cornstarch, and pour all of it into the wok. Stir and cook over high ehat for about 8 minutes, adding the scallions at the very end. When the sauce is thick and everything is coasted, serve hot over rice.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cheddar and Black Pepper Scones

The Olympics are almost here! We weren't going to go to any events but then ended up buying some last minute preliminary curling tickets - one of the few tickets that were left and were relatively cheap. I'm really curious and excited to see how insanely busy it's going to be downtown Vancouver, but I'm also scared at how long it's going to take to get anywhere. The universities/colleges are closed for the two weeks (at least the main ones) so I'll have some time off and will finally catch up on people's blogs and hopefully bake up some exciting stuff! I'm thinking doughnuts, but we'll see.

Looking back over all the food I have yet to blog about, I notice that I haven't been baking much! Since Christmas I haven't baked anything sweet at all actually. I've been making lots of scones though, like these cheddar & black pepper scones. The first time I made them I used all whole wheat flour instead of all purpose, and they were so aggravatingly crumbly. I even added more yogurt than was suggested and it still wasn't enough - how can 3/4-1 cup yogurt be enough for 3 cups flour? Anyway, I persevered and made them again the next week, this time adding even more yogurt and substituting some all purpose flour. Great success! I've also made some other scones/biscuits recently, but these ones have the best texture - not too doughy, just nice and biscuity. These are my new favourite scones for sure. I'm in the mood to make lots of other kinds of savoury scones or muffins - any suggestions?

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Apple Cheddar Scones
Baking Powder Biscuits
Caramelized Onion, Sage & Cheddar Muffins
Maple Cornmeal Drop Biscuits

Cheddar and Black Pepper Scones
Adapted from The Best American Recipes 1999

Makes 12 scones

2 cups whole wheat flour (280 grams)
1 cup all purpose flour (140 grams)
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (I used 2%)

Sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt and pepper into a large bowl. Cut in the butter and cheese.

Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F and set a rack on the upper-middle level. Grease a heavy baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.

Gently stir enough yogurt into the flour mixture to make a soft, sticky dough. Gather the dough into a ball with your hands. On a well-floured surface, roll or pat the dough into an 12-x-8-inch rectangle approximately 3/4 inch thick. Try not to handle the dough too much, and don't worry if it looks rough. Use a dough scraper or knife to cut the dough into 12 squares/rectangles. Transfer the scones to the baking sheet. (I find it easiest to cut them in squares/rectangles but feel free to cut them any way you want or use a rimmed glass or cookie/biscuit cutter to cut out circles.)

Bake the scones for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are brown on the bottom and very lightly brown on top. Don't overbake; break one open to test for doneness. Transfer to cooling racks to cool briefly and then serve as soon as possible.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Gingerbread Pumpkin Bars

I forgot I hadn't posted about these yet so I apologize for the fact that they're kind of out of season now, with the the pumpkin and gingerbread. But I'd happily eat these bars any time of year because they're so incredibly tasty. Gingerbread crust with a cream cheese pumpkin filling. I omitted the drizzle that's supposed to be on top which I'm sure is good but I wouldn't say it's necessary. I used old fashioned rolled oats instead of quick oats and while it was fine, I definitely think the quick oats are better otherwise in the crumble part on top you have big oats flakes. The only bad thing about these bars, which is hardly a bad thing at all, is that I found the crust only stayed firm/hard for the first two days and then became quite soft.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Ginger Spice Cookies
Snickerdoodle Blondies
Pumpkin Loaf
Chocolate Fudge Souffle Bars

Gingerbread Pumpkin Bars
Adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody who adapted from Culinary in the Desert from Land O Lakes

I halved the recipe and made it in a 9x9 pan. What I've posted below is the full recipe though.

For the bars
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup rolled quick oats

For the filling
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cups mashed pumpkin
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350F

To make the bars

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar and molasses until creamy. Add dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Reserve 3/4 cup of this mixture and place in a small bowl. Scoop the remaining mixture into a 10″ x 15″ baking pan lightly coated with nonstick spray.

Add the oats to the reserved mixture and mix until combined – set aside.

To make the filling

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves – mix until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing just until combined. Scoop the mixture over the uncooked base and use an off-set spatula to evenly spread the mixture over the top. Crumble reserved oat mixture over filling.

Bake until the topping is a golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.