Sunday, May 30, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows

I brought these peanut butter filled chocolate cookies to school and lots of my classmates loved them and wanted the recipe! Which always makes me happy. Filled cookies are always fun and these ones are really yummy. Of course they're more time consuming than a regular drop cookie but they're only a tad more difficult. You just roll out the peanut butter balls, then wrap them with the chocolate dough. I didn't like how the chocolate dough got a bit crispy around the edges, but maybe I overhandled the dough. I've also made a similar cookie years ago by Martha Stewart - it's a softer cookie with a more hidden peanut butter center, as it isn't shaped like a cute little UFO!

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Cowboy Cookies
Double Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies
Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies
Chocolate Chunk Malt Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows
Adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

Makes 2 dozen cookies

For the chocolate dough:
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tbsp nondairy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

For the filling:
3/4 cup natural smooth peanut butter
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 tbsp nondairy milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, maple syrup, milk, and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture and stir together until just mixed.

2. Make the peanut butter filling: In another mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together peanut butter, powdered sugar, 2 tbsp of the milk, and vanilla to form a moist but firm dough. If peanut butter dough is dry and crumbly, stir in the remaining tablespoon of milk. If dough is too wet knead in a little extra powdered sugar.

3. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats.

Shape the cookies:
1. Create the centers of the cookies by rolling the peanut butter dough into 24 balls (try dividing dough in half, then each part in half again and roll each portion into six balls). Scoop a generous tablespoon of chocolate dough, flatten into a thin disc, and place peanut butter ball in the center. Fold the sides of the chocolate dough up and around the peanut butter center and roll into a smooth ball between your palms. Place on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. If you want you can flatten cookies slightly (I didn't).

2. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven and let the cookies stand for 5 minutes before moving them to wire racks to complete cooling.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Swift, Delicious Bean Salad

I'm starting to work my way through The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook. So far I've tried a few recipes and I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. But I wanted to share this recipe because it's yummy and simple, and personally I love any recipe that can make beans more exciting. The recipe suggests you cook the garlic in the oil for a few minutes, and then remove it. I'm not convinced that it adds a significant garlic flavour and I love garlic so next time I'd just leave it in there rather than taking it out.

Oh and I'm done exams!!! Hurray. Remember to enter my giveaway for the cookbook of your choice! Ends tonight at 1159pm PST.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Dill and Lemon
Refried Beans
Pink Beans with a Cardamom Yogurt Sauce
Roasted Taco Chickpeas

Swift, Delicious Bean Salad
Adapted from The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook

1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 tbsp minced fresh basil
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 large ripe tomato, chopped (but not peeled or seeded)
1 tsp capers (I love capers so next time I'd add more)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 cups cooked chickpeas
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. When it's hot, add the garlic. Turn the haet down to medium low and swish the garlic through the oil. As soon as it starts to turn golden, about 3 minutes, lift the garlic out and discard it (or not). Add the basil, parsley, tomato and capers, and stir until the tomato starts to break down into pulp, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, stir well. Add the chickpeas, toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, and serve chilled.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sibling Bakery - A New Blog

I'm part way through my exam week right now, but have written the more difficult ones (communicable disease, toxicology, food hygiene - though food hygiene is not so difficult) and now have just one left (human relations)! So I thought I'd take a bit of a break and have been baking and starting to catch up on blogs. And speaking of blogs, I have something most exciting to share. My brother and I have started a blog together! Not just any blog, but a bread blog called Sibling Bakery where we've chosen to work our way through Secrets of a Jewish Baker: Recipes for 125 Breads from Around the World. (I was lucky and picked it up from a booksale for $2! More than worth it.) Both my brother and I wanted to bake more bread so thought it would be a good way to motivate ourselves and it would be fun to do it together.

Portuguese corn bread (broa) after proofing, before baking.

As many of you know, I love love love baking. But I was always scared of bread, specifically the kneading part of it. I had no idea what to do, when to add flour, what was too much. I would just stick it in my Kitchenaid mixer and hope it all worked out, then get upset when it was too sticky. Well after making a few breads out of the book, I'm feeling a lot better about bread. I'm enjoying kneading! I'm constantly eager to make the next loaf, and bugging my brother to see if he's made his loaf yet. So please come and say hello at Sibling Bakery!


Friday, May 21, 2010

Cookbook Giveaway!

I was very excited when someone from Snubbr (a site that you can go to for product recommendations) contacted me and asked if I wanted to do a cookbook giveaway on my blog. How could I turn down the opportunity for one of you to win a cookbook? All you have to do is comment on this post and tell me what cookbook you want to win (that's less than $30) and why you want that cookbook.

The contest closes Friday May 28, at which point Snubbr will pick the winner and send them their cookbook. Make sure to include your email address or a way of contacting you. This contest is open to people in Canada and the US. I'm looking forward to seeing what cookbook people will choose!


UPDATE June 4/10: Cookie Baker Lynn has won Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Dilly of a Cheese Scone

I love scones. In fact scones might be my favourite baked good, and I don't make them nearly enough. I had some leftover dill from the orzo salad with chickpeas, dill and lemon and didn't want to waste any of the precious herb, so I made these. The original recipe uses all purpose flour (instead of whole wheat), heavy cream (instead of milk), Jarslberg cheese (instead of aged cheddar), as well as some other things I changed. I was kind of scared about how these would turn out because I changed so many things but they were really amazing. I often find whole wheat baked goods to taste distinctly whole wheat-y but these ones didn't. The dill and cheddar were the perfect combination, and I loved the crisp outsides. The only bad thing was that the dough was very wet and sticky. I tried patting the dough out to cut the scones and was not too successful with this (hence the weirdly shaped scones you see pictured) - so if your dough turns out wet like mine did I would recommend making these drop scone style! Which is much easier anyway.

My finals are next week and I can't wait to be done! More time for baking. ;) Maybe some elaborate cakes? Pastries? Chocolate babka?

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Cheddar and Black Pepper Scones
Apple Cheddar Scones
Cinnamon Apple Scones
Caramelized Onion, Sage and Cheddar Muffins

A Dilly of a Cheese Scone
Adapted from Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More

Makes 12 scones

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup (2/3 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and chilled
3/4 cup (about 3 ounces) grated aged cheddar
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk

1. Position the racks in the middle of the oven. Heat the oven to 400F. Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.

2. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse 2 to 3 times to combine. Add the butter and pulse 5 times, then process for 8 seconds. Add the cheese and dill, pulsing twice to blend. Empty into a large mixing bowl.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and 3/4 cup milk. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid. Using a rubber spatula, push the crumb mixture into the well, working your way around the bowl to form a rough dough. With lightly floured hands, knead the dough three or four times in the bowl.

4. If your dough is really wet and sticky as mine was, you can make these drop scone style. If you think that you can pat your dough out and cut it into pieces, then put dough on a lightly floured work surface. Shape dough into a rectangle or square (or circle) about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 12 pieces. Place on the prepared baking sheets.

5. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. If using two baking sheets as I did, halfway through baking rotate the baking sheets. Remove from the oven and transfer scones to a cooling rack.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Dill, and Lemon

I recently picked up some vegetable orzo so when I got it home I started looking for orzo recipes. There are surprisingly not that many! I came across this orzo salad with chickpeas, dill and lemon and it had really good reviews so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm really glad I did because it is seriously so delicious. As much as I love fresh herbs I rarely use them because obviously they're much more expensive, but I bought fresh dill for this and WOW. Fresh dill - I forgot how amazing it was. Absolutely necessary to use fresh dill for this recipe. The recipe calls for feta, which is a yummy addition to the salad, but for me it's optional (and without feta it's vegan). This recipe is best on the first day but is good on subsequent days with an extra squeeze of lemon.

Sleeping Abby.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Broccoli Slaw
French Pasta Salad
French Barley Salad

Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Dill, and Lemon
Adapted from Cooking Light, August 2002

Yield 4 servings

1 cup uncooked orzo
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
2 cups cooked chickpeas (about 1 can)
5-6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I like it really lemony, this might be too much for some people)
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon cold water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain.

Combine pasta, onions, cheese, dill, and chickpeas in a large bowl, tossing gently to combine.

Combine juice and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over pasta mixture; toss gently to coat.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Overnight Raspberry French Toast

Okay this is one of those times where I know the photo doesn't look that great but the recipe was really good! I could just not provide a photo but I think any photo is better than no photo, so here it is. A few weeks ago my family did breakfast for dinner, which was awesome. I love breakfast food but I rarely want to take the time in the morning to make something more complicated than a smoothie or a bowl of cereal (or sometimes waffles). I found this recipe in one of my favourite cookbooks, or rather favourite series, Bravo! Best of Bridge Cookbook. I've mention the Best of Bridge books before - they're the kind of cookbooks that you can open to any page, and trust the recipe will be delicious. And the ingredients required are things you can easily find. It's unfortunate that these books don't seem to be more popular outside of Canada - on they aren't even available except as used copies.

Anyway! So this overnight raspberry french toast - it has raspberries, almonds, cream cheese, cinnamon and the regular french toast stuff. It was really yummy though I used chopped almonds this time (instead of sliced) and I think it's kind of scary to have something crunchy in an eggy dish (people might think it's egg shells). We did breakfast/brunch for dinner for mother's day too, so keep an eye out for more brunchy things soon! What are your favourite things to eat for brunch?

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Gingerbread Waffles
Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Carrot Cake Oatmeal
Squash & Aged White Cheddar Tart with Sage and Roasted Garlic Custard

Overnight Raspberry French Toast
Adapted from Bravo! Best of Bridge Cookbook

Serves 6

The recipe suggests reserving 1/4 cup of the sugar to sprinkle on top but next time I'd just mix it in so that's what I wrote in the recipe. I also found the cinnamon to kind of clump up with the eggs, so make sure you whisk them well.

8 slices whole wheat bread, torn into small pieces
8 oz (250 g) cream cheese, cut into small pieces
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (don't thaw if using frozen)
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted (don't use chopped like me)
6 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar (you could easily reduce this amount)
1 cup milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Grease an 8 inch (2L) square glass baking dish. Scatter half the bread pieces in dish. Arrange cream cheese, raspberries and almonds on top. Finish with the remaining bread pieces. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, milk and cinnamon. Pour over bread. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F. Bake french toast, covered with foil, for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 30 minutes or until puffy and golden brown.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chocolate Beet Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Thankfully my fiance is an adventurous eater so when we were discussing what kind of cake he should have for his birthday (well actually he got 2 cakes), one of the ones that came up was a chocolate beet cake. Which I've wanted to make forever! And I really fell in love with this cake. Maybe it's because I adore beets and just knowing that they're in there with the chocolate makes me love it. The cake was really moist but not too chocolatey, as there's only 3 ounces of chocolate on it - next time I'd add more or try adding cocoa powder. And lots of people, including myself, couldn't taste the beets but my fiance slightly could. The only bad thing about this cake was that it didn't keep very well - it seemed to lose its moisture quickly. But if it didn't have icing on it and could be kept at room temperature, I don't think that would've been a problem.

So once the chocolate beet cake was decided - next I had to find a yummy chocolate frosting to match! I ended up going with a chocolate sour cream frosting. I've never had a sour cream frosting before and was really intrigued. I ended up loooooving this frosting, and can't wait to try out more sour cream frostings. The only bad thing about this one is that it hardens when it's in the fridge (though I guess they all would if they have chocolate in it) - so make sure your cake is ready to frost when you start making your frosting. And if you want the icing to be soft, take it out of the fridge maybe an hour beforehand to let it warm up a bit before serving.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Black-Bottom Cupcakes
Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake
Sour Cream Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze
German Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Beet Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Adapted from Straight from the Farm and Caprial's Desserts

Chocolate Beet Cake
Adapted from Straight from the Farm

1 cup unsalted butter, softened, divided (into 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup)
1 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 eggs at room temp
3 oz dark chocolate (I'd add more next time)
4-5 medium beets (2 cup pureed)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

To make beet puree, trim stems and roots off beets and quarter them. Place in heavy sauce pan filled with water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 50 mins or until the beets are tender. Drain off remaining liquid and rinse beets in cold water as they’ll be too hot to handle otherwise. Slide skins off and place beets in blender. Process until a smooth puree forms. Let cool slightly before using in cake. You can make the puree ahead of time and store it in the fridge.

In a mixing bowl, cream 3/4 cup butter and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Melt chocolate with remaining butter in the microwave on high in 20 second intervals, stirring each time until smooth. Cool slightly. Blend chocolate mixture, beets and vanilla into the creamed mixture. The batter will appear separated so don’t fret.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Divide batter into two greased and floured 8" round cake pans. Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Cool completely before assembling cake.

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Adapted from Caprial's Desserts

The recipe says this makes enough to fill and frost one 9 inch layer cake, and I did an 8 inch layer cake which isn't hugely different - yet was left with TONS of leftover icing (about 4 cups). So I'd recommend making about 2/3 of this or having an idea of what you want to do with the leftovers!

10 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted (I'd use less next time, maybe 2 1/2-3 cups)
pinch of salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

Place the chocolate in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once the chocolate has melted about halfway, remove the pan from the heat (leave the bowl in the pan) and let the chocolate finish melting. Meanwhile, place the butter in the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment and beat until very light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the melted chocolate, and then stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. Add the powdered sugar, very carefully turn the mixer back on at low speed (so you don't get covered in powdered sugar), and mix, again scraping down the sides of the bowl often, until smooth. Add the sale, vanilla and sour cream and mix until the frosting is very smooth.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Tofu and Broccolini in Peanut Sauce

It's really hard for me to decide what my favourite kind of sauce is - freshly made pesto, peanut sauce, or a good (emphasis on the good, because most restaurant ones are not) alfredo sauce. I have a feeling I might have to pick peanut sauce though. Or pesto. But today I have a peanut sauce recipe to share with you so we'll focus on that.

I have my current favourite peanut sauce which I've made many times and love, but I'm still open to trying different variations. This one has hoisin sauce in it. I thought I hated hoisin sauce but it turns out I really love it. And peanut butter + hoisin sauce is really yummy. This makes a great weeknight meal paired with some brown rice. I used broccolini and red peppers, but use whatever you have. Carrots, snowpeas, broccoli, zucchini - anything is delicious covered in peanut sauce. The only thing about this recipe is that we didn't find there was quite enough sauce so next time I'd 1.5x the sauce. But then I love saucy things.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Udon Noodles with Peanut Sauce and Seitan
Pear and Curry Pasta
Indian Stir Fried Cabbage
Szechuan Tofu Triangles in Triple Pepper Sauce

Tofu and Broccoli in Peanut Sauce
Adapted from Canadian Living

1 pkg (425 g) firm tofu
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tsp oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups broccolini, chopped
2 sweet red peppers, diced
2 green onions, chopped

Pat tofu dry with paper towel; cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes. Set aside.

In small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup water, peanut butter, hoisin sauce, and vinegar; set sauce aside.

In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; stir-fry tofu and garlic until tofu is golden, 3 minutes.

Add broccolini and red pepper; stir-fry for 1 minute. Add 2 tbsp (25 mL) water; cover and steam until broccolini is tender-crisp, 1 minute. Add peanut sauce; cook, stirring, to heat through, 1 minute. Sprinkle with green onions.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cowboy Cookies

I find it hard enough to keep up with all the wonderful blogs out there so I'm not too eager to sign up for Twitter but recently I've found myself kind of wishing I had it. So I can ask questions like "what should I cook for brunch this weekend?" or "what kind of cake should I make to go in a trifle?" Basically the only reason I'd want Twitter is to talk about food even more than I already do. And maybe Abby sometimes.

One can never have enough cookie recipes, am I right? I recently got Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and have started working my way through it. The first cookies I made from it were these cowboy cookies which are nice and thick and chewy. A fairly simple cookie but so very delicious with coconut, oatmeal, pecans and chocolate chips. These are the kind of cookies to make all the time.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Ginger Spice Cookies
Double Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies
Monster Cookies
Coconut Shortbread

Cowboy Cookies
Adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

Makes 2 dozen large cookies

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup nondairy milk (I used unsweetened soy)
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup shredded coconut (I've used both sweetened and unsweetened, either is good)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped toasted pecan pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a medium-size bowl, stir together oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat together oil, sugar, brown sugar, nondairy milk, flax seeds, and vanilla. Fold in half of the flour mixture to moisten, then fold in the remaining half. Just before the mixture is completely combined, fold in the coconut, chocolate chips, and pecans.

4. For each cookie, drop 1/4 cup of dough (about the size of a golf ball) onto cookie sheets. The dough will be sticky and thick. Leave about 2 inches of space between each cookie. Flatten slightly with moistened fingers or the moistened back of a measuring cup; repeat dipping in water for each cookie. Bake for 14-16 minutes until edges start to brown. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks to complete cooling.