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Monthly Archives: October 2010

Granola Grabbers

It was my turn to bring a snack for the moms’ group meeting on Wednesday. I thought this healthy cookie would be a good choice. This recipe also makes a lot of cookies which is perfect as I was also hosting a meeting in my house that night.  It’s a granola cookie with raisins, almonds, wheat germ and other good stuff that came with the hemp granola I used.  The butter and sugar in the cookie saved the cookie from being dry and bland. The original recipe has peanuts in it but I left it out because of Big Kid but he still didn’t like them even though there are raisins. Little Guy likes them even though he doesn’t like raisins!

Use granola without fruit in this recipe as the fruit in packaged granola cereals is often dry and it won’t soften up in the batter giving you cookies that are hard and dry. Also choose granola that are not overly sweetened or your cookie will taste too sweet. I have also reduced the sweetness in this cookie by using unsweetened coconut and reducing the sugar slightly.

Granola Grabbers
(Adapted from Dorie’s Greenspan’s Baking From My Home To Yours)

3 cups granola without fruit
3/4 cup moist, plump raisins
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup toasted wheat germ
1 3/4 sticks (200g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and divide the oven into thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the granola, raisins, almonds, coconut and wheat germ in a large bowl and mix together. Break up any clumps with your fingers.

In a stand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until creamy. Add the egg and salt and beat until well blended. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it is incorporated, then add the granola mix. Stop the mixer when most of the granola mix is blended into the batter and finish the job with a spatula, making sure to get up any bits of dry ingredients left in the bottom of the bowl.

With a cookie scoop, scoop out tablespoons of dough and arrange the mounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between them. Flatten the mounds lightly with your fingertips.

Bake for 11 to 13 minutes , rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The cookies should be golden brown but not firm. Allow them to rest on the sheets for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring them to racks to cool.

Repeat for remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches. If there’s only one sheet left to bake, bake in centre of oven for 11 mins.

Makes 44 cookies.

 

 

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Posted by on October 14, 2010 in Baking, Food

 

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Thanksgiving Day & Fun at the Farm

It’s a holiday today, Thanksgiving Day in Canada. We haven’t been celebrating Thanksgiving as 1) it’s not part of our culture (yet) and 2) we don’t have family here to celebrate with. However, we had been having Thanksgiving lunch with our dear family friend RC and her family for the past 2 years. It’s always a feast with turkey, stuffing, gravy, sides and dessert. Yum!

This morning we went to Cooper’s Farm with friends for a fun family outing. It was a good day to be outdoors – cool morning of 10 degrees C and 16 degrees C in the afternoon. There were many visitors at the farm too, cars seemed to be pulling in constantly.

The farm has lots to see as well as activities to keep both children and adults entertained for a morning.

Corn table and corn box (not in picture).

Livestock. Yes, this is entertaining for city kids!

Even the adults were admiring this pot-bellied pig!

Goats on a bridge.

A baby maze.

The farm’s main attraction – their 10-acre corn maze. What is it about a maze that sets kids running off right from the start??

Picking your own pumpkin.

The quintessential farm fun activity – the wagon/tractor/hay ride.

Look at the beauty of a pumpkin I found! Don’t you think this would be the one Cinderella would pick for Fairy Godmother to turn into a carriage? I certainly think so!

 

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2010 in Life

 

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Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

It’s Saturday and we didn’t have any plans to go out so I baked. My neighbor gave me 2 blocks of Philadelphia cream cheese so I decided to make something with cream cheese. I selected Dorie Greenspan’s Espresso Cheesecake Brownies. It’s brownies with an espresso-flavored cheesecake layer on top. I upped the chocolate flavor in the brownie by adding an ounce of unsweetened chocolate to the batter and replaced the sour cream in the cheesecake with whipping cream because I didn’t have any sour cream. The original recipe also called for a sour cream topping but I didn’t do that. Maybe it’s due to the changes I made but I find this dessert rather… ordinary; nice but just another cheesecake brownie. Hubby likes them a lot though!

Espresso Cheesecake Brownies
(Adapted from Dorie’s Greenspan’s Baking From My Home To Yours)

For the brownies:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the cheesecake:

1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter, flour and line an 8″square baking pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Put the butter in the bowl, top with the chopped chocolates and stir occasionally until the ingredients are just melted. Remove the bowl from the pan of water. Whisk sugar into the chocolate mixture. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla and beat vigorously for a few seconds.  With the whisk, gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixture only until they disappear into the batter. Set aside while you prepare the cheesecake.

Dissolve the espresso powder in the boiling water; set aside to cool to tepid. Meanwhile, working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until completely smooth. Add sugar and beat for another 3 minutes or so, until well incorporated. Beat in vanilla and the espresso mixture. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the whipping cream, followed by the flour. The batter will be smooth.

Stir the brownie batter and pour three quarters of it into the prepared pan. Smooth the brownie layer and pour the cheesecake batter over it. Dot the top of the batter with spoonfuls of the remaining brownie batter, then, using a table knife, swirl the dark batter into the cheesecake batter, taking care not to plunge the knife into the lower brownie layer. Swirl sparingly.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the brownies pull away from the sides of the pan and the cheesecake layer is beige in the center, and lightly browned around the edges and puffed all over. Remove and place pan on a wire rack to cool to room temperature. When the brownies are completely cook, refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until thoroughly chilled before cutting.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2010 in Baking, Food

 

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French Fridays with Dorie: Gerard’s Mustard Tart

Gerard’s Mustard Tart is this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe.  It’s a savory tart that has a buttery crust and a filling made of eggs, cream, milk and mustard. Steamed leeks and carrots top the tart.

I was  nervous about making this as it involves making a pie crust. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve made pie crusts. While I have no issues with the making of the dough, I find rolling it out tricky… and messy – flour everywhere and a dirty counter surface to clean up after.

I made the dough with a pastry blender and it came together quite easily. I chilled the dough overnight and rolled it out the next day in a pie crust maker. It was very easy to use and the best thing is there’s no big clean-up job. Just wash the bag! Dorie said to roll the dough out to at least 12 inches in diameter but I find my dough just making it to 12 inches. I suppose I could roll it out another inch but I was worried about my dough being too thin. I transferred the dough to the tart pan and was careful not to stretch it, lifting and dropping instead of pulling. I freeze the dough overnight before baking it today but to my disappointment, the dough did shrink about 1/4 inch. I must have stretched it somehow. Can someone tell me please, how do people roll out large, supple dough??

However, I’m pleased with the end result. The tart looked rustic and the taste was good. I got to admit I’m not crazy about this tart as I’m not a big mustard fan but I still ate 2 slices. Love the crust! I used only (Maille) Dijon mustard as I didn’t have any grainy mustard.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2010 in Cooking, Food, French Fridays with Dorie

 

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Cornflake Cookies

It’s a blast from the past. I remember these cookies from my school days. They were a favourite during Chinese New Year too. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong but did Kellogg’s Malaysia come up with this cookie? Anyway, Big Kid likes these very much too as he loves raisins. These are fragrant, crunchy butter cookies with sweet bites of raisins. The recipe is also perfect for making together with children.

Cornflake Cookies

  • 125gm unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar (reduce if you like your cookies less sweet)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup sultanas
  • 1 cup self-raising flour (sifted)
  • 3 cups cornflakes
  1. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  2. Put cornflakes into a bag, tie it up and lightly crush cornflakes with a rolling pin. Empty crushed cornflakes into a large bowl.
  3. IMG_2673 (400x600)

  4. Cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment till light and fluffy. Add egg and beat for a minute. Reduce mixer to the lowest speed and stir in the flour, raisins and sultanas. Drop batter by the tablespoons into the bowl of crushed cornflakes and toss the batter to coat.
  5. IMG_2685 (600x400)

  6. Scoop up the batter, round the shape if desired, and place them on the cookie sheet an inch apart. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. Cool cookies on a rack before storing in an airtight container . (We used to store them in a Tupperware. Smile )

(I forgot to count the cookies in the haste to eat them but I think this recipe makes at least 36 cookies.)

IMG_2772 (464x600)

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2010 in Baking, Food

 

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Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

I haven’t been baking baking since school started although I was itching to. All I had managed to do was put my Dorie Greenspan baking book on the kitchen counter. Last night when I finally had time to bake this, my hands were almost shaking from the excitement!

These are buttery shortbread cookies but they have a strong coffee flavor; not for non-fans of coffee. The chocolate brings some sweetness to the taste. Needless to say, they are perfect with coffee. One neat technique which Dorie teaches in this recipe is to roll out the dough in a zipper-lock bag. After doing that, you seal the bag and put it in the refrigerator to chill. For easier handling, I slid a thin, flexible chopping board under the bag (not the one in the picture.)

Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
(from Baking: From My Home to Yours)

Makes 32 cookies

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped, or 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

1. Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water, and set aside to cool to tepid.
2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and espresso, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate with a sturdy rubber spatula.
3. Using the spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.
4. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
5. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.
6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.
7. If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2010 in Baking, Food

 

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French Fridays with Dorie: Gougères

This is the first FFwD recipe, whee! The recipes for October were selected by Dorie herself. I suspect she chose this as the first one because it’s a simple recipe and thus will give us all an encouraging start!

Gougères are French choux pastry with cheese. Think profiteroles but instead of sweet and with cream filling, it’s savory and cheesy with no filling. They are very yummy especially when warm. Big Kid tells me it’s pronounced ‘goo-cher’ but I just say ‘cheese puffs’.

This is my second time baking these pastry. I lost the pictures from my first attempt when the notebook broke on Tuesday. There was no choice but to re-bake as I don’t want to miss the very first assignment! It helps that it’s a no-sweat recipe and can be completed in 40 minutes. Each time I baked only half the recipe. I used Gruyère cheese. I found that if I bake the gougères for 12 minutes after rotating the trays they are a nice golden colour but soft. If I baked them for 15 minutes they turn a darker brown and have a crunch like a crispy puff.

Check out how other bakers did on French Fridays with Dorie.com.

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2010 in Baking, Food, French Fridays with Dorie

 

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