Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Daring Baker's April Challenge: Edible Container and Maple Mousse

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at!

I chose to make my edible container a Pumpkin Tuille. Maple syrup is something fall-ish to me so it seemed to go well with pumpkin.

I am not a fan of Maple syrup but since it was the challenge, I went out and bought my first jar of Maple Syrup. That stuff is a lot runnier than I thought! When it came to the mousse, I didn't want to use all that heavy cream for fear of not being able to eat it so I substituted it with Greek yogurt. It was great because it gave the mousse a tangy taste that contrasted the sweetness of the maple.

Maple Mousse:

• 1 cup (240 ml/ 8 fluid oz.) pure maple syrup (not maple-flavoured syrup)
• 4 large egg yolks
• 3 sheets unflavoured gelatin(bloomed in ice water)
• 2 cups greek yogurt (substituted for 360 ml. whipping cream)

1. Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.
2. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).

3. Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.
4. Add bloomed gelatin leaves and whisk till dissolved.
5. Allow mixture to cool and whisk the yogurt ( or 1/3 of the heavy cream, if using) into the maple syrup mixture.
6. Pour into a large bowl and allow to set in fridge if using yogurt, if not, whip the remaining cream and fold it into  the mixture and refrigerate until set.

Pumpkin Tuille Container:

1 can pumpkin
1/4 C corn syrup

1. Whisk two ingredients together.
2. Using a spatula place a thin layer of puree on a silpat. (try to make this as even as possible so it all cooks the same)

3. Bake at 350F until the puree is dry. 30-40 minutes
4. As soon as it comes out of the oven cut and curl into desired shape. (Do this very fast, as the pumpkin sheet cools, it will harden)

To assemble dessert, do so right before serving. Place mousse in a piping bag and pipe into your cylinder or container.
The container will soften with time so make sure to do this right before serving.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hot Cross Buns

In many historically Christian countries, Hot Cross buns are traditionally eaten hot or toasted on Good Friday, with the cross standing as a symbol of The Crucifixion of Christ.
They are a delicious sweet bread with candied fruit and raisins, best served the day they are made.

I went all out this easter and made all the traditional foods, not what we would eat in  Portugal since we have Folares de Pasqua, but this British tradition is pretty tasty too!

I adapted my recipe from King Arthur Flour's Easy Hot Cross Buns Recipe


  • 2 ounces rum
  • 2 3/4 ounces mixed dried fruit
  • 2 3/4 ounces raisins or dried currants
  • 10 ounces milk, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, 1 separated
  • 3 ounces butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 7/8 ounces light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 21 ounces flour (plus more as needed)

1 egg white (Saved from above)
1/2 ounce milk


      • 4 1/2 ounces confectioners' sugar
      • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • pinch of salt
      • 4 teaspoons milk, or enough to make a thick, pipeable icing
      1)      Lightly grease a 10" square pan or 9" x 13" pan.
      2) Mix the rum or apple juice with the dried fruit and raisins, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave briefly, just till the fruit and liquid are very warm, and the plastic starts to "shrink wrap" itself over the top of the bowl. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Note: If you worry about using plastic wrap in your microwave, simply cover the bowl with a glass lid. 3) When the fruit is cool, mix together all of the dough ingredients except the fruit, and knead, using an electric mixer or bread machine, till the dough is soft and elastic. Mix in the fruit and any liquid not absorbed. 4) Let the dough rise for 1-2 hours, covered. It should become puffy, though may not double in bulk.
      5) Divide the dough into billiard ball-sized pieces, about 3 3/4 ounces each. A heaped muffin scoop (about 1/3 cup) makes about the right portion. You'll make 12 to 14 buns. Use your greased hands to round them into balls. Arrange them in the prepared pan.  6) Cover the pan, and let the buns rise for 1 hour, or until they've puffed up and are touching one another. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F. 7) Whisk together the reserved egg white and milk, and brush it over the buns. 8) Bake the buns for 20 minutes, until they're golden brown. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a rack to cool. 9) Mix together the icing ingredients, and when the buns are completely cool, pipe it in a cross shape atop each bun. OR you can just do what I did and drizzle the delicious topping all over! Yum!

    Lamb of God

    Have you ever wondered why we eat lamb during Easter Sunday? If you are a regular at mass you will recall hearing  "Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world." The Christians often refer to Jesus as The Lamb of God, the lamb that fell to save the sheep, so it seems appropriate that we celebrate Easter with this special meal.

    This year I cooked my first leg of lamb (no joke- I had never done it before) and I have to say it was delicious. I adapted a recipe from The Flavor Lab  and it was the most amazing lamb ever! Scroll down for this succulent Easter meal.

    For Crust:
    1 slice of bread
    2 TBS Oregano
    1 bunch of fresh parsley
    3 TBS Dijon mustard
    50g Parmesan cheese
    1/2 cup walnuts
    3 TBS olive oil
    2 TBS minced garlic

    1. Blend all these ingredients in a food processor untill it looks like crumbs.

    Lamb Ingredients:

    Crust recipe above
    1/2 cup white wine
    salt and pepper
    1 leg of lamb

    1. Place the leg of lamb in a deep cooking dish. Cook the sides of the lamb to seal it, just a few minutes.
    2. Rub the crust all over the lamb and leave it in the fridge (lid closed or wrapped in plastic) for 2 days.
    3. When ready to cook the lamb, pour the white wine in the dish and bake in the oven with the lid on top at 220F until the meat is cooked and no longer red, you want the eat to be slightly pink. (1.5-2 hours).

    Enjoy with some Israeli couscous for a final Mediterranean touch.

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    Tiki Cake

    Name: Tiki Cake
    Personality: Moist Yellow Vanilla cake with chocolate buttercream, fenced with hazelnut pirouette cookies.

    Thomas the Tank Engine is More Popular

    Name: Thomas the Tank for 70
    Personality: Moist vanilla cake with silky vanilla frosting, coated with a shiny fondant layer. Bottom layer filled with vanilal pastry cream and fresh strawberries.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Daring Cook's Challenge April: Edible Savoury Containers

    Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers! Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 17th to May 16th at!

    I wanted to make something difficult and time consuming for this challenge. Crazy right? And I had this idea of making a bread bowl.. and then I started thinking about all the things I loved to dip in bread. And my husband's favorite pasta dish came to mind. It's a Portuguese dish that my mother used to create for me as a child and I loved it, and when I made it for my husband he devoured it!

    Then I started to worry about the sauce seeping through the bread and making it fall apart. So I needed a back up plan, and I created a delicious salad to go in the basket.

    The bread basket is what you are probably the most curious about so here it is.. I made a basic pizza crust and weaved it into a lattice pattern.

    Basic Pizza Crust

    15 oz all purpose flour
    5 oz whole wheat flour
    0.5 oz salt
    1 tsp instant yeast
    2 oz olive oil
    14 oz water

    1.First you mix all the ingredients in a bowl except for the water.
    2. Then you add half of the water. Never add all the water in at once, Chances are you will not need the full amount. Mix on first speed with  a dough hook. You can also make this dough by hand by kneading it. It will take a few minutes longer but it works just as well.
    3. When the dough feels hydrated and not slippery wet, that's when you stop adding water. But do it at minute intervals as it takes a while for the starch to absorb the water. If you add it all in at once the chances are you over wet the dough. If this happens, add more flour gradually until the dough is not slippery wet.
    4. When the dough starts to rise up the hook and peel off the sides you are in very good shape.
    5. Poke the dough. If it springs back up then you are done and ready to rest the dough. Rest it until it doubles in size (covered with plastic wrap so the dough doesn't dry).

    6. When the dough has rested, portion it into small uniform falls and rest for 5 minutes (covered with plastic wrap so the dough doesn't dry).

    7. Roll the balls into long serpent-like shapes and allow the dough to rest another 5 minutes, covered, before you begin to weave it.

    8. Once weaved into a basket, allow the dough to rest, covered, for another 30 minutes.

    9. Bake for 15 minutes, on until done, in a preheated 500 degree oven.

    Now for the Pasta Dish:

    1 lb stew meat
    1 onion, chopped
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    3 Tbsp Olive oil
    1 bay leaf
    1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
    1 can diced tomatoes
    2 buillon cubes
    1/2 C white wine
    Water as needed
    1 lb pasta

    1. Sautee onions, garlic, bay leaf and a little pepper in the Olive oil.
    2. When golden brown, add the tomato paste and tomatoes. Sautee 3 minutes.
    3. Add meat and cook for 3 minutes.
    4. Add wine, buillon cube and just enough water to cover the meat. Cook on low heat for 4-5 hours until the meat is tender. You may need to add water as the meat cooks.
    5. When the meat is done add some water to the pot and cook the pasta in it. The pasta will absorb much of the water.
    6. Season with Salt and Pepper and pour over the bread bowl.
    7. Devour!!

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Peny's 1st Birthday Party

    I always love an excuse to throw a party! Well, this time it wasn't much of an excuse, it was my kitten Penny's first birthday party, and being the adorable little furball she is, I wanted to make her day special. You know how 1st birthdays are mostly for the parents since the children have no awareness at that point? This is the same idea!

    We went with the Safari  theme since Penny is adventurous and no little sugar plum. We did all the works, the food, the decorations, the balloons, we even had Safari hats for the guests! I invited some of my close friends who had met Penny on some of our Pennsylvania trips.
    Since discovering customized water bottle labels I've been dying to use them. I made a set of mini pod water bottles with Penny's 1st Birthday written on them. I used different mismatched serve ware and regular kitchen plates to serve the different assortment of food. The labels are what really brought everything cohesively together.

    I made 'Jungle Juice' which was really sangria for the adults. I served it in an apothecary jar, I love the unique look it gives the table. If you want to make your own version, I added 1 bottle low quality red wine, 1 bottle prosecco, 1 cup black currant concentrate (substitute with grenadine), and lime margarita mix. Add 2 chopped up apples and 2 oranges and let soak overnight! It's not too strong of a beverage but it's refreshing!

    I made the food labels sound very wild and jungle-y and mostly items that Penny likes. There was Fishy Mush which was really  Fish Terrine, Penny's Favorite: Mix 2 cans of tuna and 2 cans of salmon, mix with 5 eggs, some sauteed onions and tomatoes, bake in the oven in a waterbath and chill overnight before unmolding. It's as easy as it sounds!

    Chocolate chip cookies were my Albino Ladybugs, a little sweet munchie before the cake was cut.

    Snake Eyes were my deviled eggs; Penny always tries to eat my husband's eggs in the morning so it's on her top favorite list.  I made them the night before and to beat off that little crust that they formed on top of the yolk, I put them in the oven right before the party. Great trick in case you ever have a crusty problem! 

    We also had Safari Mix which was trail mix served in a little green bucket: Penny typically plays soccer with my trail mix, Green Moss which was green pea dip, Giraffe Spots which were an assortment of tortilla and pita chips, Ant Hills which were duchess potatoes, and my absolute favorite, Monkey Poop which was turkey meatballs in a delicious tomato sauce, a little more time consuming to eat but Penny loves them!

    And of course no party is complete without some cake. It was a pistachio cheesecake with some buttercream decorations and fondant safari animals. I wanted something different, no regular vanilla cake with buttercream for this party! We sang Happy Birthday to the birthday kitty and she ran away right after, leaving the adults to the sugar high.
    I was thrilled that the adults wore the safari hats, very festive!
    It was a great party,but Penny's little brother, Toby, was quite exhausted from all that partying! 

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Thomas the Tank Engine

    You all know this little choo choo train! Here is a Birthday Cake I just made for a 5 year old!

    Name: Thomas the Tank
    Personality: Moist vanilla cake with silky vanilla frosting, coated with a shiny fondant layer.

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    King Arthur's Pizza

    I am one of those people who is stubbornly against ready made mixes. Cake, Bread, Cookie, you name it.. I am so anti, but I heard so many raving comments about King Arthur’s Mixes that I gave in and decided to try. I had to make something that I couldn’t make on my own from scratch, so when I found the gluten free pizza base  I decided to go for it. I am no expert on gluten-free flours so this was new and different!

    The mix was incredibly easy although the consistency was that of cake batter which didn’t leave me too convinced. If this was regular flour and water I would just increase the flour ratio but in this case, I couldn’t! So I decided to use a spatula to spread the incredibly soft batter. I put my regular pizza toppings, Portuguese Queijo da serra, marinated artichokes and olives, and some anchovies.  The pizza baked for slightly longer than a regular flour pizza, but let me just tell you the result was AMAZING! My husband said it was like eating a biscuit with toppings.  I don’t have celiac’s disease but I think I could get used to this pizza crust. Don’t tell the Italians but I might like this one better!