December
19
Filed Under (Not Cake, Pies) by Colleen on 19-12-2009

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As a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher I had received a great coupon from Pepperidge Farms and wanted to make a meal around their pastry.  Easy!  Chicken Pot Pie.  I used my coupon to buy the frozen sheets of pastry and lined two pie plates, made my filling and topped with two puff pastry lids.  Delicious, quick and very affordable!

Ingredients:

1.5 T olive oil
2 cups diced onion
1 cup celery
1 tsp. minced garlic
4T all-purpose flour
1 ea. 10 oz bag  frozen peas and carrots
2 cups chicken stock or strong vegetable broth
2 cups diced chicken

1 package Pepperidge Farms puff pastry
Melted butter as needed

Method:

Using a small stock pot, heat oil and sauté onion and celery until translucent.
Add the diced chicken and cook until done.
Add garlic and sauté two minutes more.
Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until well incorporated.
Pour in stock and stir.
Simmer until filling has thickened.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add remaining vegetables and stir until all is cooked thru.

Roll out pie crust and cut it about 1/2 an inch larger than the pie plate  you are using.  Add some of the filling.  I usually fill it almost to the edge.  I do brush the edge of the bottom pie shell with egg wash and then add the top crust, also rolled out to be a bit larger than the plate.  Secure the top crust to the bottom with a fork or by a folding method whichever you are used to.

Bake in pre-heated 400° oven until the crust is nice and golden as you want to make sure the bottom crust is cooking also.  The filling is already cooked so you just have to ensure that it is warmed through especially if you had pre-made it and it was refrigerated.

When you have a nice dark golden colour on your pastry you can remove it and serve it up!

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December
07
Filed Under (Not Cake, Recipes) by Colleen on 07-12-2009

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My family love Chinese style bbq pork buns (char siu bao).  I had made a roast pork the night before last and wanted to use up some of the leftovers.  Of course my pork wasn’t roasted in the traditional Chinese bbq style, but with the addition of a sauce mixed into my roast pork, I felt I could get away with it. For the bun dough I used the master recipe from my copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Ingredients:Print recipe here

Bun dough:

Master Recipe here.

Roast Pork:

2 cups of roast pork diced (I used leftovers remember)

Sauce:

(Adapted from The Chinese Kitchen by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo)

For the Filling (make while the dough is rising):
5 tablespoons low-sodium chicken stock
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2  1/2 tsp sugar
2  1/4 tsp tapioca or corn starch
2 tsp ketchup
1  1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
Pinch ground white pepper
1 tbsp oil
1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3/4 cup barbecued pork, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 tsp Shao Xing rice wine or gin
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

In a small bowl, combine chicken stock, oyster sauce, sugar, tapioca starch, ketchup, soy sauce, and white pepper; set aside.

Heat a wok or pan over high heat for 40 seconds and add oil. Coat wok with oil using a spatula then add onion. Lower heat to medium, and cook until onion turns light brown, about 2 minutes. Raise heat to high, add pork, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add wine, and stir to combine.

Stir the reserved stock mixture and add it to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens and turns brown, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Add sesame oil, and stir to combine. Transfer to a shallow dish. Cool to room temperature.

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 375F.

Once the dough has risen for the first time I took small pieces of it and flattened it to the size of a small saucer using floured hands so it didn’t stick.

Then take about one heaped tablespoon of the pork filling and place in the center of the dough disc.

Easy Pork Buns

Gather up the sides of the dough disc to form a ball shape enclosing the filling.  Be sure to seal the filling inside of the dough or it will leak out.   I placed my buns with the gathered seam side down and brushed with a beaten egg to give them a glossy finish.

Place buns on a sheet pan dusted with some flour and bake in the oven for approximately 15-20 mins depending on your oven.

I served mine with a plum sauce for dipping which was a great compliment.

***As I said before, these are a quick cheats way to make pork buns, so if you are looking for the traditional char siu bao, then this recipe probably isn’t for you.  It was really a way of using up our leftovers and enjoying the pork in a different way to how it was first served up.

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September
23

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There is nothing quite like the smell of bread baking.  Unless of course it’s cake or cookies baking.  But bread fills the house with that moreish, yeasty fragrance you just can’t get enough of.  Recently I purchased a fabulous book titled “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.”  You start with a basic dough from the master recipe that can be kept in the fridge until you want to bake something.   At which point you take some of the dough and add your flavours, shape, bake and eat!  This week I have really been hungry for Tandoori Chicken so decided to make that and what better to accompany this meal than some tasty garlic naan bread.

Master Recipe

3 cups of lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all purpose white  flour, measured with the scook and sweep method.

Mixing and Storing Dough

1.   Warm the water slightly:  It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature, about 100 degrees F.  Warm water will rise the dough to the right point for storage in about 2 hours.  You can use cold tap water and get an identical final result;  then the first rising will take 3 or even 4 hours.  That won’t be too great a difference, as you will only be doing this once per stored batch.

2.  Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5 quart bowl or preferable, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight)  plastic food container or food grade bucket.  Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve.

3.  Mix in the flour – kneading is unnecessary.  Add all of the flour at once, measuring it in with dry ingredient measuring cups, by gently scooping up the flour and leveling it off with a knife.  Mix this in with a wooden spoon, or high capacity food processor (14 cups or larger) or mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment.   If it get’s too dry you can reach into the dough with very wet hands and press the mix together but don’t knead.  You are finished when everything is uniformly moist.  This will yeild a dough that is wet  and loose which will probably conform to the shape of the container.

4.  Allow to rise.  cover with a lid but not airtight.  Do not use screw top jars as the gasses will not be able to escape and the jars could explode.  Allow the mix to rise at room temperature for approximately 2 hours.  The top may begin to collapse in on itself, this is ok.  Longer rising times up to 5 hours will not harm the result.  You can begin using any portion of the dough after this time to make your breads.

When you wish to bake some bread, DO NOT KNEAD.  Just shape your loaf in 30 to 60 seconds and you are ready to bake.  It is best baked on a pizza stone with some cornmeal sprinkled on it to prevent your loaf from sticking.

For my naan bread I just took a peach sized portion and rolled it flat with my rolling pin, shaped it into 8 inch ovals and fried it in a cast iron skillet that had some ghee (clarified fat)  in the bottom of it.  I covered the skillet and rotated the bread after about two minutes.  Watch for burning and adjust your temperature accordingly.  I cooked it for another 3 to four minutes on the second side and then buttered it with some roasted garlic butter we had made.

You can use this master recipe to make all manner of breads and I will be trying different types here again in the future.  If you enjoy homemade bread this is a must have book for your collection.  Bread making at home has never been this easy!

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August
18
Filed Under (Cakes, Sweet Stuff) by Colleen on 18-08-2009

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We so loved yesterday’s batch of Upside-down Caramel Apple Cupcakes that I decided to make some more but this time right way up. I had a dozen plain spice cupcakes left over to use. Click here for a printable version

This time around I peeled and chopped 2 large Pink Lady apples which are excellent for cooking with. They held their shape wonderfully and didn’t break down when stirred into the caramel even once they were tender.

Caramel Sauce

    10 oz unsalted butter
    2/3 cup brown sugar
    2/3 cup dark brown sugar
    1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
    1 tablespoon of cinnamon
    pinch salt

Melt the butter over medium heat in a pan. Add the sugars and spices. I cooked this reducing the heat a little until it bubbled and didn’t look so watery on top. To test my caramel I place a teaspoon full of the sauce on a glass plate and pop it in the freezer for a few minutes to see how it’s setting up. You don’t want a hard toffee like caramel in your cupcakes. When you get a nice soft but not runny consistency add the chopped apples and continue to cook until the apples are tender… I wasn’t adding them to the oven this time since I was using cupcakes I had made previously, so I needed to cook them a little longer.

Cut a small cap from the top of the cupcakes by diagonally inserting a sharp knife into the cupcakes  from the edge towards the center about one inch.  Cut around until a small cap pops out.  You can see the shape of the well in the image below.  I trim off the point on these caps so they sit flat when I put them back on top of the caramel apple filling.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Add a heaped teaspoon of the caramel apple filling to the cupcakes.  Replace the trimmed caps and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  I think these looks so festive and use colored cupcake papers to suit the season.  Great for those Fall parties, Thanksgiving and other Holiday festivities.

As always, if you have any questions be sure and drop me a line.  I love hearing from you all and will do my best to answer in a clear manner…  Often I think my instructions are clear but then again… 😉

Cheers for now,

Colleen

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August
16
Filed Under (Cakes, Sweet Stuff) by Colleen on 16-08-2009

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You might think I’m a little premature in baking an item so suited to Fall weather, but there is something wonderful about the fragrance of cooked apple and cinnamon that I just couldn’t resist. Click here for a printable version

When the air conditioner is on and it’s overcast it’s easy to overlook the fact that the temperature outside is actually in the upper 90s.

I saw a photo of an upside-down caramel apple cupcake on Flickr made by 4GoodnessCake and thought they looked easy enough to make, which they were.  For some reason I decided to chop up my apples when the ones I saw online had used a ring of apple.  The ring would have been far easier to get out of the pan I’m sure and probably would have made a more traditional flat bottom shape.  I had to scoop out some of the apple chunks and reposition them on the cupcakes.  But as they cooled they set up well and stayed where they were put.

I used a recipe for Applesauce-Spice Cake from my Betty Crocker Best of Baking book.  The spicy cake with added applesauce was great coupled with the cooked apple I placed into the pan before the cake mix.
Step 1 – Cook the Apples

This recipe test yielded enough batter for two dozen cupcakes but I only had enough cooked apples for one dozen so the remainder are just plain old spice cakes.

  • Peel and chop into small chunks two apples of your choice.  I used Granny Smith because they hold together well when cooked and that is what hubby bought back with him from the store so little choice really!
  • In a skillet I melted 1 cup of unsalted butter, to which I added 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and just a pinch of salt to bring out the flavours.
  • Add the chopped apples (or rings if you prefer) and cook just until they begin to get tender.
  • Scoop about 1  tablespoon of this mixture into the bottom of a greased cupcake pan.

Step 2 – The Cake Batter
Seriously people, if you want to use a box spice cake mix – DO IT! I’m all about convenience and sometimes we just don’t have the time to do it from scratch. Yeah, yeah, I know purist bakers are rolling their eyes… 🙂

    2  1/2 cups of all purpose flour
    2 cups of sugar
    1/2 cup of butter
    1  1/2 cups of apple sauce (I prefer the unsweetened natural)
    1/2 cup of water
    1  1/2 tsp of baking soda
    1  1/2 tsp salt
    3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/2 tsp ground cloves
    1/2 tsp ground allspice
    1/4 tsp baking powder
    3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350F (180C) degrees.  Beat all the ingredients together in your mixer on low speed, scrape the bottom to ensure no dry ingredients are sitting down there for about 30 seconds.  Then beat on medium high for around 3 mins until batter looks relatively smooth.

You can now add this batter on top of your cooked apples in the cupcake pans, filling each hole to about 2/3 full.  I use a quarter cup measure to try and get some uniformity in my cupcake size.

Bake for around 20 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched with a fingertip.   They will look brown due to the spice cake mix but don’t let them get too dark.   When cooked, cool in the pan for approximately ten to fifteen minutes.  I used a large spoon to remove mine from the pan, scooping up the apple and sauce that stayed in the pan.

Have your cupcake papers sitting on the cooling rack and place each cupcake apple side up in the papers.  I drizzled on any syrup and apple left in the bottom of the pan.  Let cool.  You can decorate any way you wish.  These were good the next day cold out of the refrigerator or heated in the microwave with a scoop of vanilla icecream and some caramel sauce.

If you have any questions do not hesitate to comment here or email me.

Happy happy baking!

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July
19
Filed Under (Sweet Stuff) by Colleen on 19-07-2009

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I’ve always wanted to try making cake balls.  The whole idea just looks like fun.  I’ve seen them on other sites and thought I would definitely have to give them a go some day.

Well hubby got promoted recently so why not use that as an excuse to make some for him to take into the office right?  Easy as can be.

The recipe below uses a boxed cake mix but if you can’t get your hands on one or would just prefer to make it your red velvet cake from scratch here is the recipe.

Red Velvet & Cream Cheese Cake Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 box red velvet cake mix (I used Duncan Hines – cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
  • 1 package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate)
  • Parchment or wax paper.

Red Velvet & Cream Cheese Cake Balls

Red Velvet & Cream Cheese Cake Balls

Method:

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.
2. Mix thoroughly with the cream cheese frosting.  I used a wooden spoon to mix it around.
3. Using a melon baller or teaspoon roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet covered with parchment.   You can also use a mini ice-cream scoop but I’m a hands on kinda gal.
4. Chill for several hours. I froze mine for two hours.
5. Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.
6. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on parchment until firm.  (I dropped the balls into the chocolate, completely covered them and then scooped them up with a fork and tapped on the side of the bowl until most of the excess chocolate came off.)

I also only melt a few pieces of chocolate bark at a time because it starts to cool and thicken. It’s easier to work with when it’s hot.

I refrigerated mine again until ready to pack up and send to the office.

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