25 December 2009

Christmas Crackers

It has been far too long since I posted. Apparently since almost this time last year nothing has reminded me on London worthy-enough to be blogged. But today, being Christmas, my mother managed to procure a set of Christmas crackers for us to enjoy. I pulled on three of them, and won all three times. Undefeated! Christmas crackers are so much fun--complete with hats, jokes, and toys. I actually got some reasonable toys. I did share with those others in my family who managed to lose all their pulls, but I still ended up with a nice set of tangrams. It was pretty exciting.

Hopefully I will think to post a little more frequently during this next year. In fact, I have a post in mind, so stay tuned--I worked on a delightful project for my Victorian Literature class this past semester.

13 December 2009

Catching Up

Well, it has been a very long time since I have posted, so I will try to get myself caught up on all the cooking adventures that I have had in the last 3 months or so. First off, in October I tried my hand at making fortune cookies. They are surprisingly easy, and quite tasty. When I read the recipe it seemed weird that you can only cook 2 cookies at a time, but when I tried it myself, it is indeed a true statement. If you cook anymore than that there is no way that you'll get the cookies folded before they harden. It is so cool, when you first take the cookies out of the oven, they are soft and quite malleable, but they start to harden almost instantly; nevertheless, it is quite possible to fold them to actually look like fortune cookies.

Then, a little late in the month, I tried my hand at Portuguese Custard Tarts. They utilize two of my favorite ingredients: custard and puff pastry. And they cook in a muffin pan, so they are perfectly bite-sized. Finding the custard to fill the tarts with took a little doing, but eventually Macey's pulled through and helped me out. The tarts turned out so well, that I've made them once since my original attempt and took them to a party, where everyone loved them.

Then November came, This month I tried my hand at my first mousse, a White Chocolate Strawberry Mousse. It turned out quite nice. This time, I decided that instead of putting my dessert in the same old boring ramekins, that I would try putting it in a champagne flute so that you could get the nice effect of eating the mousse out of a nice dessert glass. Really, I suppose that I was envious of the pretty picture in the cookbook.

Finally, after thanksgiving, I decided to try my hand at cooking a pot roast. As you can probably tell, I mostly cook desserts, but man must not live by dessert alone, so I made my first pot roast. All my life my mother has made roasts sometimes for Sunday dinner, but she has always prepared hers in the crockpot while we were at church. I decided that I wanted to cook it in the oven, in preparation for a school project I was preparing for. The recipe that I was following didn't have much instruction regarding seasonings, so I just sort of made it up as I went. But if I do say so it turned out quite tasty. I also made some roasted potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding. My Yorkshire pudding even came out of the pan perfectly--nearly unheard of! My mother always served the juice that was left after the roast cooked as that--juice. But I decided that I would try and make a more proper gravy out of it, and it was to die for, I am so glad that I did. The gravy really made the roast, and with it poured over the potatoes and Yorkshire pudding, it was absolutely delightful! It is always fun to find out that you can cook regular food too, and not just desserts.

29 September 2009

Flummery and Buttercookies

Flummery is a sort of 17th century soft pudding. Typically it's made with oatmeal and stewed until it reaches a nice gelatinous consistency. My flummery turned out very much not like that. Based on what I knew about flummery I figured that it would have some sort of pudding-like consistency. Mine was more like a melted smoothie, but that's ok. I was pretty nervous about this dessert since I'd never had it or even heard of it, but I was pleasantly surprised. It tasted delicious. It was a nice strawberry flavoured flummery and it was so light, and yet rich enough that you didn't need to eat tons.

Since I figured that the flummery wouldn't be terribly filling I also made buttercookies. I was a little nervous about them, they were very crumbly when I made them but they turned out quite well, though they took forever to brown. They tasted very much like Royal Dansk buttercookies. Next time I'll have to figure out how to make them in more shapes than just squares or circles.

24 September 2009

Spongecakes and Turnovers

Well allow me to say that contrary to popular belief I have been cooking this last month, but what with school and the internet at home being totally unreliable I haven't been able to post. But an exciting month it has been. I started off the school year by making "Blueberry Spongecake" though since I made it with raspberries I suppose it would be better called "Raspberry Spongecake." The spongecake turned out really well, I found a recipe online and I really liked it, and the raspberries were really nice. If I could change one thing I'd vote on the raspberries not having seeds, but somehow I don't think I can change that.

Then about two weeks ago I had a Sunday afternoon where all I did was cook. I made Lasagna, French Bread, and Peach Turnovers. Of course I wasn't thinking and so only took pictures of the turnovers. I had never made french bread before but it's not any more difficult than making any other kind of bread. Spreading the egg white on top was a little bit of a challenge, but only because I was using the back of a spoon and not a pastry brush. Some things are simple fixes. The lasagna turned out, but I had made it before so I'm not too surprised that it worked out well. The turnovers were delicious. The recipe was for apricot turnovers, but finding cheap apricot jam turned out to be harder than you'd expect so I used peach. We served them to some boys who live nearby and they seemed to think they were delicious. This recipe uses frozen puff pastry, and I am a complete fan. Puff pastry is so incredibly easy to use, and it makes for such delicious desserts, I can't wait to make something else with it.

I've also made several batches of Zucchini Brownies this week. Zucchini brownies taste pretty much exactly like zucchini bread, only chocolatey and brownies. They're absolutely delicious. The first time I made them I followed the recipe and made chocolate frosting to go on top and everything. They were good. The second time I made them I ended up with 2/3 of a cup too much grated zucchini, and about half as much cocoa powder as I needed. So I made do the best I could, and since I didn't have frosting ingredients left I just dusted them with confectioner's sugar at the end. They still turned out amazing. Whoever thought to put zucchini in baked goods was brilliant. Though I think that whoever thought that we should spell zucchini with two C's wasn't thinking too well. Courgette is much easier to spell, and just sounds cooler too.

30 August 2009

Panna Cotta

Well, these aren't exactly the long awaited pictures of my Panna Cotta, but they are pictures from when I made it about a week ago. I went up to my grandmother's house last weekend and together we made this delightfully creamy and light, yet rich dessert. Panna Cotta is an italian dessert, much like France's Creme Brulee, or Spain's Flan, though it contains no eggs. I think that custards are one of the finest desserts. Panna Cotta is rich enough that a little will suffice and so a nice ramekin size is perfect. This Panna Cotta we served with a warm strawberry coulis, though it is also quite nice with fresh peaches and blueberries. I think that by far this dessert has been my favourite one I've made this summer. It is always just so cool and creamy.

26 August 2009

The Last Cake

Well. Last night was the very last night of m last cake decorating class. I have now spent 3 months of my life learning to decorate cakes, and what is the result? Ta da! One day I may be able to make truly lovely wedding cakes, or something like that. I think I've made a good start, and I've certainly learned a lot this summer. The top layer is a yellow cake with a cream cheese frosting filling, and then the bottom is a spice cake with the same cream cheesy filling. Now to find time and occasions to practice my skills...

15 August 2009

Thai Desserts

I realized on Wednesday that I haven't cooked anything new in several weeks and decided today that it was time to remedy that. I have long enjoyed Thai food, perhaps because my dad made it a lot growing up, and so today I decided to experiment with a Thai dessert that I first tasted a few months ago. Sticky rice with mangoes is a delightful treat in Thailand and it is a delightful treat at my house. It turned out quite spectacularly and I already am looking forward to making it again. This dessert is ridiculously easy to make. You make rice, and boil some coconut milk with a little sugar and mix the two together. Let it sit, serve with some mangoes, and some additional coconut milk. It is a sweet yet refreshing dessert. I'm sure it's especially nice on a hot night, though I can't say for sure since we're having lovely cool weather this weekend. With luck it will turn out as well next time I make it. And maybe that time I can procure some nice Filipino mangoes.

12 August 2009

Cake Number 5

Well, last night was the 1st time that I have ever worked with Fondant. Fondant is not as hard as people make it seem. Certainly I imagine that the horror stories are true, but still, it wasn't that bad. Now of course it still took me three tries to get it on my cake, but hopefully next time will be better. The bow is actually quite easy to make, but I got rather impatient and didn't wait long enough for the bows to dry, hence the flatness... I used butterscotch pudding for the filling in between my two very flat layers. It turned out pretty tasty.

28 July 2009

Cake numba 4

Well today was the last day of cake decorating class number 2. We learned the basket weave and the rope border. I really like the border. It's a lot of fun to do. The top of my cake was incredibly smooth, much smoother than ever before. And then I covered it all up with my royal icing flowers. In some ways that's kind of sad, but at the same time the cake turned out looking pretty nice. It was a little sketchy at the beginning because my cake rose like crazy. It was like a mountain on top of my cake. It wasn't even an air bubble or anything, it was definitely cake all the way through. It was good. The royal icing flowers tasted pretty good too. It should be fun to see how the next cakes turn out...

26 July 2009

Indian Curries from Scotland

Last time I visited my local Macey's I picked up a bottle of chicken tikka masala paste. my next door neighbor had made it a month or so prior and I felt that it was delicious enough for me to give it a go. At length I finally got around to defrosting my chicken and marinating it. I found it quite amusing that on the bottle of curry paste it says to marinate the chicken for "an hour or overnight." Apparently if you marinate for some length of time between one hour and twenty-four then it won't work. I decided to defy the directions and I marinated the chicken for something like five hours. The chicken tikka masala turned out quite well. I was glad, though next time I think I'll use a little less yogurt and a little more of the paste, it wasn't quite as picante as I might have liked.As it turns out, chicken tikka masala isn't really an Indian dish at all. According to legend it was it was conceived in a Bangladeshi restaurant in Glasgow in the '60s. While that can be neither confirmed nor denied it does appear that it originated in the British Isles. Though the article that I read mentioned that it's popularity has broadened and that it is even served in restaurants in India now. Which I think is quite comendable.

No matter that origins of the delicious dish I still think that it is delicious. And I am quite proud of this delightful tikka masala paste in a jar.

22 July 2009

Custard Based Desserts are the Best

It seems that I can't manage to update my blog as often as I actually cook things. And in all reality I don't really cook that often. First off. I made flan. I found a recipe that looked pretty good and I am pleased to say that it turned out well. Next time I need to cook the sugar a little longer. It didn't turn quite the color flan caramel normally is. It was definitely a little anemic looking. But the custard tasted good. It had a nice eggy hint, but it wasn't nearly as overpowering as the creme brulee was. I've decided that heavy whipping cream is about my favourite ingredient to cook with.

On sunday I decided that I wanted breadsticks with my dinner. And I rediscovered a recipe that I had found, that looked really good, and decided that the "soft garlic breadsticks" would be my next adventure. They were a lot softer and more delicious than the last breadstick recipe that I made. I think one thing that made these ones so much better was that they had fresh grated parmesan cheese in them. They weren't stringy or anything but the cheese added a nice flavour and helped them to stay moist. The breadsticks were quite delicious, though I did manage to burn one batch of them.

My last adventure in cooking this week, was also a bread. Focaccia bread. Pretty much my favourite kind of bread. The recipe that I found didn't have any seasonings in it so I took the liberty of adding some (among other seasonings). I've decided that most things are better with a little minced garlic in it, and next time I think I'll even grate in some cheese. The bread was a little crispy on the bottom. I think though that it had a little more to do with the cookie sheet that I used as opposed to something that I did. I'll have to do some research and find out what sorts of pans other people use to make their Focaccia. I also think that next time I'll use a bit more olive oil. I was rather liberal with the olive oil and didn't follow the recipe but I think that a little more would be even better, and definitely more seasonings. The seasonings were good but not quite piquant enough for me. Overall though it turned out fairly well. I'm glad that all these yeast breads are working out. I remember a time when I would have shuddered and fled at the thought of cooking with yeast.

11 July 2009

Croque-Monsieur and Lemon Posset

It has been quite a while since last I wrote. Never fear, I have been cooking even in my long absence. My first new adventure was to make Croque-Monsieur. Essentially it is a hot, ham and cheese sandwich, though since it utilizes Gruyere cheese it tastes immeasurably better. This recipe uses the broiler part of your oven, to toast the bread. I found though that if I left the sandwich under the broiler only long enough to toast the bread then the sandwich wasn't warm and melty. So after initially toasting the bread I turned off the broiler and just let the sandwich sit in the oven to warm, before toasting the last slice. This made the sandwich nice and warm. Which is the way that all hot, ham and cheese sandwiches should be.

The next thing I experimented with was a Japanese recipe--chicken teriyaki. The sugar mixed with the soy sauce made for a delicious glaze on chicken, and served over Jasmine rice it was quite delicious. This recipe has you simply marinate your whole chicken in the teriyaki sauce, and I think that next time I will go ahead and cut my chicken up into smaller pieces before marinating so that I get more surface area, and also so that it doesn't take as long to cook.

I completed off my day with a new dessert recipe. Lemon Posset. A posset is a 16th and 17th century drink. A sort of drink that consists mainly of curdled milk and ale. Fortunately my posset really had neither, and due to the wonderful invention of the refrigerator my posset also had a consistency more like a custard than like a drink. This lemon posset is more than merely a pudding, it has a bit of grated lemon rind in it and so that makes it have a sort of satisfying crunch. The posset definitely fulfills the requirements of being cool and creamy, but it is also quite rich so you can't have more than a few spoonfuls at a time. Which I suppose isn't really a problem.

A few days after I made all of these wonderful dishes I made pretzels for one of my meetings at work. Pretzels are both surprisingly easy to make and extremely time consuming. I most certainly under estimated the time that I would need to prepare them, but they really were quite delicious, and use just regular ingredients that I had around. The pretzels went stale surprisingly fast but I suppose that if I had eaten them faster that wouldn't have been such a problem.

It has been a busy couple of weeks cooking-wise, but I am excited that all the things I made turned out so well, hopefully the luck will hold.

23 June 2009

Cake #3

Well this week was the last week of my first cake decorating class. This week we finished learning the "wilton rose." Mine certainly leave room for lots of improvement. I think my icing was a little too stiff and so the leaves cracked a little bit. Luckily they still look tolerable, but with practice I think they will get better. I used a cherry chip cake mix and filled it with cherry pie filling. I was quite impressed that the cherries didn't all squish out. I wasn't really sure what to expect since I'd never filled a cake with something with substance before. I am glad that my cake decorating turned out so well. Hopefully the class in July will be as good. We're going to learn to use Royal Icing, which gets hard. I'm excited.

Also this week, well on Sunday, I made soup. A type of beef stew really, though I used left over black bean water from when I made black beans last week. I've never cooked with bean water before so I wasn't really sure how it would turn out, but surprisingly it went well. I put some stew meat, some potatoes and part of an onion in. Then added a chopped up tomato, a couple black beans and some seasonings. I was pleased that it turned out so well. I was quite pleasantly surprised.

21 June 2009

Cake(s) Number 2

This week, my cake decorating teacher said that we could make cupcakes, and so I did. Thus this week I have many pictures, of various designs. As it turns out I'm not any good at decorating cupcakes. Maybe next week's cake will turn out better.

10 June 2009

The First Cake

Well last night was the first of the cake decorating classes. Since today is my father's birthday I decorated a cake for him, and then sent him a picture and said how good it tasted. I made a white cake with a strawberry coulis and whipped cream filling. Hopefully my handwriting will become a little steadier as I practice making cakes. I think that the cake turned out pretty swell, but we'll see how much better I get.

07 June 2009

Egg Yolks and Egg Whites

This weekend was another exciting one. Once again I made three different dishes. The first dessert that I made was Crème brûlée. It turned out surprisingly well. On first taste I'm not sure that I liked it as much as I liked the Panna Cotta of a few weeks ago, but that may have had something to do with the size. I think next time I'll make my brûlée smaller. It is quite a delicious rich dessert. I found the recipe on Allrecipes.com and followed the suggestions that the people made at the bottom, it turned out delicious.

The second dish that I made was semi related. I made Meringues. I did this because the Crème brûlée took half a dozen egg yolks, which leaves a lot of egg whites left. meringues on the other hand take a lot of egg whites. So, you see, this way I could use whole eggs. The meringues didn't turn out as well as I would have liked but with some chocolate pudding they are quite delectable, much like eating air.

The third dish that I made wasn't a dessert at all, but was my dinner. I made Broccoli and Chile Spaghetti; only, I used a red bell pepper instead of a red chile. Surprisingly fresh red chiles are nearly impossible to find, and so i figured that a red bell pepper was the next best thing. Certainly they aren't the same at all, but they do have one thing in common-their color. The broccoli and red bell pepper spaghetti turned out quite well, especially with a little salt and pepper. Overall I think that it was a fairly sucessful weekend. Hopefully this next week will prove as exciting.

05 June 2009

Pizza Margherita

Delicioso! A nice pizza with basil and mozarella, baked to a light toasted state, quite delicious. Today's adventure was a pizza one. I tried to flip the pizza crust above my head; I haven't quite got the hang of it yet though. It sort of works but gets too thin in the middle and not thin enough near the edges. I made it work though. The sliced mozarella was really nice, and the fresh basil gave the perfect flavour. It was a good meal. I look forward to making it again, thoughI think next time I would cook it a little less and maybe use a tad more cheese. You can never have enough cheese.

04 June 2009

Fruit and Gruyere

Tonight I tried my hand a a couple of new recipes. First I made Cantaloupe Melon with Grilled Strawberries. They turned out quite well. The warmth of the broiled strawberries was a nice contrast with the coolness of the cantaloupe.
You just broil some sliced strawberries with a little powdered sugar sprinkled on top for a few minutes and then serve them with sliced cantaloupe. It's quite delicious.

Next I made Golden Gruyere and Basil Tortillas. The Gruyere cheese has such a deliciously strong flavour and when it melts it mellows it out just perfectly. The fresh basil adds the perfect touch. Both of these recipes are ones that I look forward to making again.

Unfortunately the last recipe that I tried tonight didn't turn out nearly so well. I made a loaf of Chocolate Banana Bread. I managed to forget to put in the baking soda and so it didn't rise at all. my "bread" turned out about half an inch thick, and then it didn't even manage to cook all the way and so it doesn't look like bread in any way shape of form. It does taste pretty good but it looks pretty awful. Next time I imagine that I'll remember to include baking soda, and maybe even cook it all the way...

29 May 2009


Nothing is better than fresh squeezed lemonade made with homegrown lemons. Lemons off the tree in my backyard just make such a tasty treat. especially with mounds of sugar, and a frozen strawberry or two.

1 1/4 cups white sugar
5 2/3 cups water
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Boil the sugar and 1 cup water together till sugar is dissolved. chill. Mix it all together.

I like to use a little less sugar (scoop up a cup and then shake a little of the sugar out) and a little more lemon juice (but only a little) It's also good with a frozen strawberry or two as ice cubes. the strawberries add the perfect flavor.