Thursday, January 29, 2009

DB: Tuiles...French for distaster

This challenge turned out rather disastrous for me. This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux. I really did try...but as you can see...not so good for me. First off, I'm not sure what this "thick plastic" is people have easily accessible laying around their house to carve stencils out of... I did my best to pipe circular/ovalish shapes. The shapes then spread out while baking to cover the sheet and drip down the front of my you can see.

I took them out of the oven and tried to cut out circles using a biscuit cutter... also didnt go well. I got 3 or 4 ugly circleish looking things out and molded them on a muffin tin to make a bowl. I also made a mango mousse to go with it. I have to say, the mango mousse was the only thing that went well in this recipe. Tragedy. really. I'll have to add the recipes later, its late. I'm sure my DB buddies have some glorious successes. They are such talented artists! check them all out here!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Holy Guacamole!

I just got back from 5 days in Cancun, and all I have to say is... I love Mexico. Especially Guacamole. YUM... It's ridiculous how good that stuff was. Every lunch I would pile on the guac, then add extra stuff like fabulous grilled fish, chicken or steak, veggies, and random other sides like tempura cauliflower (WOW SO GOOD!). Each bite of whatever else was on my plate was acompanied by a bite of guacamole and some pico de gallo. I don't understand why my guacamole doesn't turn out like theirs. Sigh. It was soooo good. I'm definitely in withdrawal. If mine came out like that I would eat guacamole every single day! It was the perfect combination of smooth and chunky, perfectly salted, hint of citrus and cilantro, and the taste of onion, but not overpowering.
Many all inclusive places have mediocre food, and I'm not gonna lie, some of the food was mediocre. The good news is that you can find something for everyone. My hotel had thai, sushi, a churrascaria, italian and an "international buffet" and more. My favorite of course was the buffet. So many options! Fruit, yogurt, so many breads, meat grilled as previously stated, but also different meat prepared different ways, some mexican, some curry, some baked etc, veggies so many diferent ways, soups, ah, the list goes on. Each meal was served with a slew of Mexican sauces to put on top of whatever you get. I will soon be searching for those recipes. They were great!
We ate at the Thai restaurant one night, and I had a cod, pan fried with some sauteed veggies. It was pretty good, but a spicy sauce the waiter brought really turned it up a notch. That sauce was excellent!
The BF had a super soup...but I can't remember what kind it was...some sort of cream soup with mushrooms, or ginger or something. It was heavenly. The star of the meal though was the dessert. Rice pudding, in a ball, fried, with vanilla ice cream, and a drizzle of strawberry sauce. It was phenomenal. I will definitely be trying to find that recipe!! Be on the lookout for that!!
We woke up early almost every morning to watch the sunrise, so I included some photos of that, and this last one is a picture of a painting in the hotel... Note the lady in the background with the huge WEDGIE!! HAHAHA this was outside the elevator we had to ride ot get in and out of the building...hilarious.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I LOVE Cuban food. YUMMM! I was sooo excited to see Cuban on our My Kitchen My World menu! I attempted to make a Vaca Frita I had at Alma de Cuba in Philadelphia. In the restaurant it comes on white rice with black beans and a tomato escabeche, so I set out to repeat! I ended up finding the recipe by the chef of Alma de Cuba- Douglas Rodriguez! You can find the recipe I used on for the Vaca Frita and Red Onion Mojo. I read a couple recipes about escabeche so I ended up making my own. I'll have to post the recipe later though, I don't have it with me and I'm pressed for time. I sauteed some black beans and served it with it, but I forgot the beans for the photo shoot! Earlier in the week I also made a black bean soup using a recipe on Epicurious as a guide. I added a can of sliced jalapenos, juice of a lime and chipotles in adobo. It really bumped up the flavor quotient.

Last night I made the coconut cupcakes and seven minute frosting in the Febuary issue of Martha Stewarts magazine for dessert at my sushi party! They are fantastic!!! I don't have the recipe/know if its legal to post the recipe, but I will say that they are some tasty cakes there! I'm leaving tomorrow morning for Cancun (yay!) so I'm sure I'll come back in love with Mexican food and trying all kind of new dishes!! All inclusive resort = potential chubbfest.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Not Quite Macarons...

I decided to try my hand at Nigella's Pistachio Macaroons, "the world's most elegant macaroons." Sigh. Mine tasted good, but tragically came out flat. Ultra flat, and sticking to the pan. The taste was pretty good, although I would recommend only using a small amount of icing on each, because its ULTRA sweet, although flavorful. The best ones are in the pictures... sad huh?? I really like the idea of them and the flavor, so I think I'll try again tomorrow. I'm not sure where I went wrong. I beat the whites up very well, everything looked like I thought it would, but then I took them on a short car ride (potential for evil). They looked like they survived the car ride pretty well....but maybe not. Oh well, at least they don't use a lot of pans or make big batches. Here's Nigella's recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess.
1/3 C or 3 oz pistachios
3/4 c confectioner's sugar
2 large egg whites
1 tbsp sugar

1/4 c or 2 oz pistachios
1 2/3 c confectioners sugar
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
2 baking sheets lined with wax or parchment paper

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grind pistachios in food processor with confectioners sugar until fine as dust. Whisk eg whites until fairly stiff but not dry, sprinkle the sugar over and whisk until very stiff. Fold the whites into the pistiachio-sugar dust, and combine gently. Pipe small rounds onto pined baking sheet using a pain 1/2 inch nozzle. Let them sit for 10 minutes to form a skin. Then put in oven and cook for 10-12 minutes, they should be set, but not dried out.

Remove from the oven and let cool, still on their sheets, while you get on with the filling. Grind the nuts and confectioners' sugar in the processor, then cream the butter and continue creaming as you add the nut dust. Make sure it is well combined, then sandwich the macaroons together.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Delicious Steamy Kitchen

Last night dinner was amazing! Wow... The flavors are still dancing on my tongue. I have Jayden from Steamy Kitchen to thank! I was perusing her website when I saw a recipe for slow cooked salmon, and it sounded really good!! The one thing I can't stand is dry, overcooked Salmon, and this recipe looked foolproof. I made the tropical inspired Slow Cooked Salmon with a mango-pomeranate salsa, Nigellas Vietnamese Shrimp and Glass Noodle Salad and Roasted Asparagus with ginger and garlic. For dessert I made a Mango Mousse from Junglefrog and a Microwave Chocolate Cake from Real Good Taste. Sigh. I can't get over how delicious this meal was! AND to top it all off, it was gorgeous!! Yes, I know two desserts is a bit much, but I had bigger plans for the Mango Mousse that just weren't fulfilled last night. I ate a little bit to taste it and WOW. I topped it with some pomegranate seeds, and it was just delicious. Then about an hour or so later, I was craving warm, chewy, cocoa or truffles just wouldn't cut it, and I remembered a post on the Daring Bakers Forum about microwaveable chocolate cake. On the post she says it only takes 4 minutes and you only dirty one dish. True statement! It was amazing. It was warm, chocolatey, cake, and it baked up like a real cake, not like a steamed pudding. It is dangerously easy and sinfully delicious! I want to repeat the entire dinner ASAP! You HAVE GOT to try these recipes, especially the salmon if you've never made it this style. It is truly a treat. The fish gets infused with all the citrusy flavor of the fruit (or whatever bed you choose) and it stays moist and tender. Melt-in your mouth good! Oh and the first picture is an old barn on our family farm....I like the way the light comes through the slats... Anyways, here are the recipes:
Pre-oven salmon... pretty!
Salmon after cooking.
Nigella's Vietnamese Shrimp and Glass Noodle salad
Microwave Chocolate Cake
Slow Cooked Salmon courtesy of Jayden of Steamy Kitchen:

1. Preheat to 250F. Season salmon and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. <- important. Otherwise the time in the oven will be devoted to un-chilling your salmon, instead of cooking it. Grab a pan big enough to hold all fillets in single layer. Make bed of whatever ingredients you’ve chosen. 2. Place the salmon fillets on the bed you’ve made. Cook for 30 minutes. [if you're cooking more than 4 fillets, just add another 2 minutes per additional filet] To test for doneness, stick a sharp paring knife in, if it goes in an out very easily, its done. Even if you leave it in the oven for an extra few minutes, don’t worry, it is impossible to overcook the salmon this way….unless you, uh, leave it in the oven for a week. 3. Top with whatever finishing herbs, spices or ingredients you’ve chosen. After cooking, the salmon is going to look almost exactly the same as when you first put it in. Don’t worry, after 30 minutes in the oven it is cooked.

I brushed salmon with honey, salt, pepper. Placed it on a bed of sliced oranges and lemons and served with with a salsa of coconut flakes, diced mango, scallions, cilantro and pomegranate seeds. YUM!

Vietnamese Shrimp and Glass Noodle Salad from Nigella Lawson/Food Network

Vietnamese Dressing: 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed 2 fresh long red chiles, seeded and finely diced or julienned 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger 4 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla) 1 lime, juiced 4 tablespoons water 1 tablespoon sugar 2 teaspoons groundnut oil 1 teaspoon sesame oil
Salad: 8 ounces cooked small shrimp 6 ounces glass noodles 4 ounces sugar snap peas 4 ounces bean sprouts 3 scallions, sliced into thin circles 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves, to garnish
To make the Vietnamese Dressing, simply mix all the ingredients together. This will keep very well in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator for at least a week.
To make the salad, marinate the shrimp in 1/2 cup of the Vietnamese Dressing. While this is going on, soak the noodles in freshly boiled water according to packet instructions. Once re-hydrated, refresh the noodles in cold water, then drain. Put the sugar snaps and bean sprouts into a colander and pour over freshly boiled water from a kettle. Rinse them with cold water and drain well, just shaking the colander, so they're not actually wet.
In a large bowl, mix the marinated shrimp with the drained noodles, scallions, sugar snaps, and bean sprouts. Dress with 2 tablespoons more of the Vietnamese Dressing; add more dressing, to taste, if desired.
Sprinkle over the chopped cilantro and toss everything together well before arranging onto a large plate.

Mango Mousse from Junglefrog

Serves 8, prep 15 min. two hours chilling. Cook 8 min.
2 large or 3 medium mangoes
1 tsp lime or lemon juice (optional)
6-7 tbsp sugar - depends on wether the mango is sharp
1 large egg white
2 gelatine leaves (optional, I did not use any)
200 ml double cream plus 150 ml to serve
handfull of pistachios, chopped, to garnish
1. Cut the cheeks of the mangoes and remove all the other juicy flesh. Remove the skins and puree the flesh untill smooth. Stir in the lime or lemon juice, if the mangoes are without acidity of their own.
2. Heat the sugar in a small pan with 4 tbsp water untill dissolved, then boil to soft ball stage; 4-5 minutes. Using a sugar thermometer is the easiest way of knowing if you have reached this stage - wait untill the temperature reaches around 116-118 degrees C. This dish is very forgiving, so if you don't have one, don't worry.
Put the egg white in a bowl, beat untill stiff, then add the hot sugar with one hand while whisking with the other (an electric whisk is best) untill thick and glossy.
3. Place the gelatine (if using) in a bowl and cover with cold water. Allow to soften for 5 mins. Remove from the water, squeeze out any excess from the gelatine, then place in a small pan with 2 tbsp of water. Heat untill dissolved, then stir into the mango puree and mix well.
4. Whip 200 ml cream untill soft peaks are formed. Stir 4 tbsp of the cream into the mango, then spoon in the rest, along with the egg whites, and gently fold them both into the mango. Spoon into 8 individual glasses and leave to set in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. To serve, top with the remaining cream, freshly whipped, and a few chopped pistachios for garnish.

Microwave Chocolate Cake Courtesy of Real Good Taste:

Serves 1, or 2 if you're feeling generous

20g (1 and 1/3 T.) butter

30g (2T) milk

7g (1T) cocoa powder

30 g (2T plus 1t.) sugar

10g egg, lightly beaten (about 1/4 of the egg)

splash vanilla or other extract

15g (1T) flour

pinch baking powder

tiny pinch of salt-

Heat butter and milk in mug in microwave until butter is melted. Stir in cocoa powder and microwave on high for 10 seconds.-

Stir sugar, egg and extract into the cocoa mixture than add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir until smooth. If you've got room in the mug you could beat a little air into the batter it too.-

Now it's time to cook the cake. This part will depend a lot on your microwave oven. Mine is nuclear powered and the cake cooked in only 45 seconds but yours might take longer. I suggest starting with 45 and adding more time if needed. The cake is done when the center is set but the sides haven't pulled away from the mug and are still a bit shiny and moist looking. You could turn the cake out onto a plate... or you could just grab a spoon and enjoy right from the mug.