Posts Tagged ‘Baking’

After getting back from the gym this morning, I realized that I had more time to kill before meeting a friend than I had originally thought. Naturally, I first went into the kitchen to whip up a batch of cookie dough for this weekend’s Mattawa shenanigans (I’m baking them on Friday to ensure freshness). After that happened, I sat down to watch a Top Chef marathon. I am now proud (or ashamed) to say that I am completely updated on the Canadian version AND Top Chef: All Stars. Moral of the story is…when there is nothing on the Food Network to watch, I actually turn the TV off. Okay, so I lie, American Top Chef seasons are on Reality, but aside from that. I figure, of all the reality shows, I might as well watch one in which people do something productive and that features Anthony Bourdain sometimes. I respect and love that man something fierce.

Did I also mention that I made corn bread, too? Yeeeeah, that happened.

When the days are dreary and cold, there’s nothing better than watching incredible chefs duke it out while sipping on some rosehip tea. Deeee-lish!

My choice of activities worries me sometimes. Although, in all fairness, I did go and play some drop-in volleyball at Carleton last night for a few hours, so that counts as a real person activity…right?

Bis später!
-V

P.S. Countdown to Mattawa Cottage Weekend 2011: TWO DAYS!
P.P.S. I haven’t posted a sexy car in a while:

Prrrrr.


DoneDONEdoneDONEDONE!

Posted: April 20, 2011 in Uncategorized
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I finished my last exam of undergrad today, and I am pretty stoked about this! Naturally, I’m still a ball of stress and ridiculousness, but this is to be expected; it’ll take me at least a week to fully settle into schoolless freedom. Now that the agony is over, I was thinking back to the past few weeks and realizing, wow, I am possibly the single most inefficient human on the face of the planet. Why? Let me explain.

I bring you…V’S EXAM PERIOD:

Yeah. That’s actually a really accurate depiction of how I spent two weeks of my life. Looking at it in pictorial form amuses me, but also induces this face: :/. It is what it is! Somehow, I managed to finish a degree running my life like this! Haaaaaaaa…

Recipes DOMINATED:
1. Cornmeal Loaf (I made this sucker with chili powder and Vegeta)
2. Nutella & PB Pinwheel Cookies w/ Kashi Clusters
3. Barley Pudding (Like rice pudding, but I used barley instead because it OWNS)
4. Pork Tenderloin w/ Sauteed Veg (Dutch Oven = <3)

Anyway, I baked and cooked a whole bunch more, but these 4 were the highlights of a two-week power-kitchen fiesta…I mean, studying…I mean…yeah, no, we know what I mean. Words are hard.

In any case, as I am now no longer on borrowed time, I am going to go watch me some Grey's and take a short coma.

Bis später!
-V

A wordless Sunday…

Posted: April 10, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

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Back to studying!
-V

I’ve been floating around on a veritable cloud of joy the past two weeks, and I honestly think it’s largely due to the fact that it’s been sunny! Even though the weather hasn’t exactly been cooperating, temperature-wise, I’ve ditched the hobo clothes in favour of legging & dress combos and actually caring about how I look…and for the first time since we moved to Canada, I am fully OVER winter and its accompanying coldness. I’m done with you, winter. Seriously. It’s over.

To perk myself up further, I’ve been listening to Anberlin’s Dark is the Way, Light is a Place. The entire album is extraordinary, but this song, in particular, just puts a smile on my face:

So, I’m the happiest because of school working out, sports and the weather being reasonably nice, but then the plague comes along and shacks up in my body. Ugh. Every time I laugh, I start to make alarming hacking noises and subsequently lose a lung or two. Ugh. When I am sick, all I want to do is consume everything that I can, especially if it’s bad for me. This is the opposite of good news, as I’m working on losing weight to be a VOLLEYBALL MACHINE. So, how do I deal with this? Basically, I just made myself some healthy comfort food (?!), the recipe idea courtesy of Serious Eats: French Lentil & Barley Salad. I switched it up by removing the tapenade, lemon and oil, and by adding roasted cherry tomatoes and a few tablespoons of 5% sour cream to make the whole shebang super-creamy. I think I successfully fooled my body into thinking that I consumed total garbage. That, and the grilled pineapple I had for dessert was so incredibly sweet that it couldn’t have possibly been healthy. Mmm. Well-fed and happy!

Apparently, my plague cure is cooking? I don’t know. In any case, I made some coffee cake for the whole family, too:

Yeasted Chocolate Coffee Cake (recipe adapted from The Pastry Affair):

Dough
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup plus a pinch of granulated sugar
3/4 cup warm milk (I nuked it on high for about 70 seconds)
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick salted butter, room temperature

Fillin’
8 ounces chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used an assortment of chocolate found in my house)
1/4 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon heavy cream, for egg wash

Instructions:
In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of granulated sugar over the warm milk. Let stand until foamy (i.e. sit over the bowl like a creeper and watch the Saccharomyces get ‘er done).

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar, the whole egg, and the egg yolk. Stir into the yeast mixture. Add the flour and salt and mix until combined. Add the salted butter and mix until the dough is soft and sticky.

Place the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth. Place the dough into a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, which is approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours (I cleaned my room in the meantime). I actually just threw my dough into our bread maker so that it’d mix the dough & knead the life out of it, so I avoided the mess that was to be Battle Dough, and I combined two steps into one.

In a small bowl, mix together the chocolate, brown sugar, and a cinnamon. Using a pastry blender fork, cut in the butter until the mixture is uniform. Reserve 1/2 cup for later use.

The next part is my favourite: punch down the dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it is an 18-inch square. Brush the egg wash around the edge of the dough to make a 1-inch border. Spread the chocolate mixture (minus the 1/2 cup) evenly throughout the dough, leaving the border clean. Starting at one end, roll the dough tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch the edges closed. Fold the dough in half and twist 2-3 times. Place the dough into a greased loaf pan. Brush the top of the dough with egg wash and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of filling over the top of the dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow the dough to double in size, 20-30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake the loaf for 55 minutes, or until the top is deeply golden. Transfer the masterpiece to a cooling rackplate and allow to cool completely. Make yourself a nice espresso, slice a piece off, and enjoy the sunshine on a lovely Saturday afternoon 🙂

NEXT TIME: Job hunt panic & more real life things.

Bis später!
-V

My fam’s out of town this weekend, so they requested a repeat of last week’s oatmeal & peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for the road; once again, the entire house smells like peanut butter, and I’m thisclose to licking the walls.

As far as St.Pat’s is concerned, it’s finally on an acceptable day of the week, and to top it off, there’s no OCVL tonight due to March Break! My team is going out to Barrymore’s instead to celebrate, and I’m bringing dessert! Listen, I procrastinate by cooking and baking. I accidentally ended up making FIVE DOZEN mini chocolate cupcakes. Five. Dozen. Now I have to get rid of them somehow.

Haaaa, look at my “artsy” photography.

One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes (from Martha Stewart):

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk*
3 tablespoons canola oil
<– This is the only fat in the whole recipe!
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

*I squeezed a tablespoon of lemon juice into 3/4 of a cup of milk and let it sit for approximately 5 minutes instead.

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and take out a substantially-sized mixing bowl. Sift in the dry ingredients, then add everything else; mix well. The batter will be runnier than you’re inclined to enjoy, but don’t worry! It’s supposed to be like that.

Pour into muffin cups, filling about halfway. I tossed a few chocolate chips on top of each cupcake just to have a little surprise beneath the icing. Bake for 15 minutes if you’re using little muffin cups like I did, or closer to 20 minutes if you’re using a standard size cup.

Remove from the tin and let cool before frosting them (recipe below). I packed all mine into an airtight container and left them overnight before frosting, and they tasted just as good! For the record, this recipe, as written, made 60 adorable baby cupcakes, and the icing recipe covered all of them, with some to spare.

Mint Buttercream Icing

1 1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
500g icing sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
4-5 tbsp heavy cream

Instructions:
Beat butter until fluffy, then slowly begin incorporating the sugar. Make sure you’re not wearing black for this, like I was. When the mixture is nice and homogenous, add the salt, extracts and 2 tbsp of the heavy cream. Mix on high, adding more cream until you achieve the desired texture. Load up a pastry bag (read: large Ziploc) and git ‘er done!

**

So, this was my first time actually piping icing, so the results are very…homey. I think the slight variance from cupcake to cupcake lends them some charm, but that’s mostly because I am stupidly proud of these little guys. The amount of icing was perfect for me, because it added a little minty touch without being overwhelming. The cupcakes themselves were light and spongy, so the entire experience didn’t leave me feeling like I had eaten a giant brick of lard. This recipe is definitely going in the AWESOME section of my personal cookbook. What up.

Now I’m off to feed the masses and get my dance on…

Sláinte!
-V

For the last several years of my life, I’ve really wanted to properly celebrate the wonder that is Mardi Gras, and finally, I thought, the year had come. I picked out some recipes, rolled up my sleeves…and realized I had lab reports to finish writing up. I spent most of my waking hours yesterday in the lab itself, and all my dreams of making monkey bread for breakfast shattered along with some poor soul’s glassware (I broke nothing, Ithankyou). That, and I had an 8:30 lab today, too. Gah. Anyway. Not one to give up without a fight, I decided to make a quick, completely non-Mardi Gras dessert in the evening regardless.

… and what’s faster than brownies?! My mother begged me to use up leftover sale truffles from Christmas instead of chocolate chips because “[she was] honestly sick of eating those damn things.” Only this was said in Bosnian, not so much in English. I’ll be honest, half-decent, 2.77$-a-box truffles weren’t a thing my mother and I could resist…until 3 boxes and 3 months later rolled around. So. The truffles met their fate in a melty vat of goodness.

Not Remotely Mardi Gras Brownies (a very loose adaptation from Good Life Eats):

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa powder
5 random truffles
3/4 cup chocolate chips
3 eggs
3/4 cup flour

Instructions:
Since I’m ghetto, I use a butter-greased, rectangular casserole dish, but you can use a square baking tin lined with parchment paper.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and stir in the sugar, followed by 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips (and truffles). Once that’s become a nice, melty concoction, take it off the heat, and stir in the cocoa powder (or hot chocolate mix, really).

In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs, and add the chocolate mixture to them. I did this really slowly just to make sure the temperature wouldn’t cook the eggs (though I’m sure it wasn’t that hot by this point). I could’ve said I tempered the eggs and tra la la, but I’m not a fancy chef, nor do I pretend to be.

After you have unified the two parts, add in the flour and the chocolate chips, stirring with a wooden spoon. Pour the batter into your batter receptacle, whatever it may be, and bake it for approximately 40 minutes. When a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, let the brownies cool in the pan. When you’re done prowling the kitchen, waiting for thermodynamics to work, take them out of the pan, and cut them into squares.

Nom away!

***

Brownies and I have a long history; they’re among my favourite desserts to eat, but I can never quite make them to my taste. Either I underbake them to the point where I’m eating brownie pudding, or they’re cakey…and I think cakey brownies are an insult to browniedom and refuse to acknowledge them. This is why my quest for the perfect brownie has been a long and arduous journey. As far as this recipe is concerned, I’m not entirely sure that I enjoy it as much as some of the others I’ve tried, simply process-wise, but the results were delicious!

As a side note, I want to invest in – get this – MEASURING CUPS, and see if exact measurements actually make a difference. Hmm. For the record, how I cook and bake is exactly how I work in the lab. It’s been working pretty well for me, but I’m always down to try new things! I’m currently laughing at my own ridiculousness, but there’s that.

Never trust a chemist that can’t cook!
-V

P.S. Happy International Women’s Day!

Now that I am pretty comfortable with the semester’s work, my crazy baking urges have returned. I had some spare time (read: I was pretending I had nothing to do) yesterday, so I decided to make dinner for the family. This is what happened:

I made a chicken & veg pasta casserole! I am continuing my adventures by baking some cookies for my OCVL team, as we have a game tonight. Since I only have to be in the lab for about 30 minutes today to do a presentation, I’ve got this 6 hour gap that could be better spent studying. Naturally, I’m going to bake some cookies. It makes sense, right? Or something.

Without further ado, I present to you…

The Oatmeal & Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (Loosely based on the recipe found at Love & Olive Oil)

Seeing as how I don’t actually believe in “measuring,” all the values were approximated using scientific eyeballing and tactile texture-sensing. 99% of the time, it works every time. All kidding aside, my (very picky) 15-year-old brother is currently trying to inhale multiple cookies at the same time, so I think this batch turned out well! As for me, the intoxicating smell of peanut butter is definitely still lingering in my house, and I feel drunk off of cookies. Awkward. There’s also the fact that I ate more dough than I baked, but that’s another matter entirely. The only complaint I’d have about this recipe is that it’s definitely lacking in oatmealy goodness, but that’s also to taste. Next time, I’m full-out going to double the oatmeal content and enjoy picking bits out of my teeth. It’s how I pick up all the men; you’re just jealous.

With a batch of deliciousness successfully delivered unto the Earth, I am off to get ready for my OCVL game tonight!

Bis später!
V

P.S. My lab partner and I KILLED the presentation; the TAs were impressed. V: 1, School: 0