reika: photo of butter, eggs, and a whisk (baking)

Even though I think I'm fairly adept at baking, I'm still generally wary of working with yeast. I have this perpetual fear that I'm going to screw it up (make the slurry too cold or too hot, inevitably end up killing the yeast) so in a fit of bravado, I decided to make these cinnamon sticky buns for Christmas breakfast. My mom was staying over, and if there's anybody who's a challenge to impress, it's mom.

I followed my baking guru's recipe, down to making twice the amount of needed dough, which essentially was just a buttery brioche dough. The recipe itself wasn't difficult to follow; it just takes a lot of time, between the rising and the chilling and the second rising. It is so fulfilling to actually see the dough rising and expanding though~ maybe that's the thrill that bread bakers experience all the time.

The final baked product came not too shabby, in my opinion. The mom and I scarfed a couple each as soon as they were removed from the oven.
reika: (Default)
Made too much food, which I have to clear out of my fridge before leaving on Saturday.

Sausage rolls
Cheeseballs - cheddar/cranberry & goat cheese/scallion/parsley
More cheese, plus crackers & crudite

Roast beef
Scalloped potatoes
Lemon green beans
Brown sugar glazed carrots
Khristine's stuffing
Kris' quiche

Citrus rum punch
Hot spiced cider


My citrus rum punch was basically something that I just threw together. Because really, isn't punch just a big mix of liquor and juice or soda that you have around the house. My concoction had orange juice, pineapple juice, some lime juice, dark rum, whatever little bit of Domaine de Canton I had left, and some Amaretto. Topped off with ginger ale and garnished with orange and grapefruit slices.
reika: photo of butter, eggs, and a whisk (baking)
I never really worked with pumpkin before, but I figured that, hey, it's that time of the year so why not try something new?

So far, I've made:
- pumpkin roll
- pumpkin muffins

And I now plan to make:
- pumpkin pie ice cream
- pumpkin pasties, maybe in anticipation for next week's HP7 movie?
reika: photo of butter, eggs, and a whisk (baking)
One of the assistants in the other group organized an office trick-or-treating. Mostly everyone on her list brought in candy and chocolate. Of course I have to be fancy and bring cookies.

I used Smitten Kitchen's recipe for these classic cookies. These really are my favorite kind of cookies -- not so much a big fan of chocolate chip. I think cookies should be mostly crisp and simple. With snickerdoodles, it's just butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Done.

The hardest part about making cookies is figuring out the proper cooking time. SK's recipe suggests 10 minutes. I followed the instructions for the first batch, and the bottoms ended up burned. I tried 8 minutes for all subsequent batches, which did leave a little soft out of the oven, but I left them on the tray for another minute before moving them to the cooling rack, and that seemed to be the best way for me to get perfect cookies.

My co-workers happily devoured them all.
reika: photo of butter, eggs, and a whisk (baking)
Inspired by The Food Librarian, I set out to make this Dorie Greenspan double apple bundt.

I actually found the cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours, at a random Marshall's store when I was out shopping with my mom. It's literally a tome, but they had priced it at $7.99 so I figured why not. Little would I know that it would become one of my favorite baking references here on out.

I know I sound like a remnant of a bygone era when I say this, but I really like making bundt cakes. I've borrowed my mom's pan indefinitely and have made numerous cakes (mostly pound cakes or banana cakes) using it. Maybe it's a false sentimentality, because I don't think I remember my mom making too many bundt cakes in my childhood, even though she did have a couple of cake pans back home in the Philippines too.

Anyway, this recipe makes a lot of bundt. I still had apples from when we went apple-picking a while back so I used a combination of empire, golden delicious, and macintosh for the recipe. I even made my own apple butter since I wasn't going to buy a jar of it only to use 1 cup; it's easy to enough to make anyway. I added the nuts and raisins, but you can skip them if you don't like such elements mixed in your cake, or if you're serving it to others who may be allergic, etc.

(If you don't have the book, the recipe's here.)
reika: photo of butter, eggs, and a whisk (baking)
Tried baking Smitten Kitchen's yogurt cake last night, and even though it may have overbaked just a tad, it's good~

I really dig cakes like these that are simple yet nice and flavorful. The yogurt does give a bit of tang, which is pushed even more by the lime zest. I skipped the blackberry sauce, since it was late when I started baking (around 11p) but since I do have the berries in the fridge, I may make a small batch of sauce for later.

I do want to bake more this summer, so maybe late-night baking will become my new weekly ritual.
reika: photo of butter, eggs, and a whisk (baking)
Haven't been doing too much baking or new recipe cooking lately. Most of my meals these past weeks have come out of a can, or are of the stir-fry kind. As it's also Lent, I'm generally trying to limit my intake of meat. It's a good idea anyway and I may continue to do it even after Easter just to continue the habit.

Anyway, the one time that I did bake -- mayhaps this was three weeks ago -- it was to make a small batch of brownies using (Inside a Black Apple)'s recipe. Tania swore up and down that this recipe is super simple, but has yielded the best results. She's right. It's also a testament of how much of a fatty that I am that I had all the ingredients to make brownies on hand.
reika: (Default)
Christmas feels like ten years ago, so I'm sorry that nobody will really care about this anyway, but I did just want to post this for the record.

In Phiilippine culture, it's expected that the noche buena ("the good night") feast will served on Christmas Eve. It's essentially our version of Thanksgiving, when we bring out lots of good food, including ham, queso de bola, and the Simbang Gabi sweets of puto bumbong and bibingka. Since it was just me and M for Christmas this year, I decided to go the opposite way and to have a intimate and smallish spread for Christmas instead.

This is my Christmas cocktail party: gougeres, various cheeses with olives, cornichons, fruits and nuts, firecracker prawns and lots of wine.

I followed David Leibovitz's [recipe] for gougeres. It was, surprisingly, easy to make these savory puffs. I suppose if you've made eclairs before, it's not really that much of a stretch, but I suppose I'm generally intimidated by recipes where you have to add eggs really quickly to a hot mix. I've never ended up with scrambled eggs in any of the other things that I've tried, but that doesn't mean that I'm not paranoid each time I have to do it.

The firecracker prawn recipe comes from [Yumsugar], and I would definitely recommend it if you're planning a cocktail party or just looking for appetizers. It's super easy to prepare, but the dish comes out to be so tasty. I love recipes that involve a minimum of effort yet yield maximum results. The kicker for this recipe is definitely the hoisin sauce -- so if you can try to get it, do so! It just won't be the same without it.
reika: (Default)
Had my holiday brunch on Saturday, and decided to also do a cookie exchange this year. I really should stop giving myself so many things to do. I become really ambitious when it comes to cooking -- if only that applied to other aspects of my life, I would be a much richer woman.

Anyway, I made three types of cookies (and a loaf of banana bread on the side):

Earl Grey Tea Cookies [recipe] - Yeah, it's a Martha recipe, but I tried making a small batch of this last year and really liked it. The cookies are a shortbread texture, and with the tea actually embedded in the cookies, it makes for a unique flavor. The boyfriend totally loved this, which doesn't surprise me since he adores tea in any shape or form, and probably also because the resulting cookies weren't too sweet.

Snickerdoodle Blondies [recipe] - I really like the classic simplicity of snickerdoodles. It's just cinnamon and sugar, but really, life doesn't need anything else more complicated than that. The cinnamon-sugar topping makes the resulting bar cookie appear like a cross between a coffee cake and a blondie, but that's just all right by me. I would've preferred it if the blondie part were chewier, but again, that's my personal preference; the recipe's quite good as it is.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Sandwiches [recipe] - This was a little bit of a cheat since they're essentially just sugar cookies (which I cut out in star shapes -- c'mon, it's the holidays!) with Nutella in between. Everything's always better with Nutella, I figure. The RS sugar cookie recipe, to their credit, is super foolproof. I haven't really worked with sugar cookies before (except for the slice & bake types) but I didn't have any issues with their recipe.
reika: (Default)
Not making this into a full-fledged food blog, 'cause even though I enjoy cooking, I think it's too much work to photograph your food, present it in a pretty way, and then write about it engagingly so that other people would want to read it. So many great people are doing that already, and they're far better in it than I.

I do want to start evaluating recipes -- how'd it taste, did I do anything different from the original version, how easy were the instructions...? Think of it as online crib notes for cooking.

Anyway, since I had 1/2 lb. of green beans that were going to go to waste if I didn't act on them soon, I found this super simple recipe from The Good Mood Food Blog. The dressing worked really well with the subtle sweet of the blanched green beans. I didn't have the sesame listed in the recipe, but since the author mentioned that tahini would work just fine (I mean, it is just sesame butter anyway, so that saves me the work in grinding the seeds), and it did! Usually, I find tahini overpowering when I use it in hummus or babaghanoush, but here, it melded nicely with the rest of the ingredients. I would use the dressing quite sparingly though since it is quite flavorful.
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