Monday, February 28, 2011

Mini Corn Bread Loaf: So Sexy!

I've been baking like crazy, if you haven't noticed lol. Every weekend I make fresh bread so that my family can enjoy homemade bread instead of going out to the store and buying it. Like I mentioned before, "there is nothing more certain and satisfying than being able to pent your anger onto a helpless ball of dough and know that it will pleasure all of your senses when it comes out of the oven." I wasn't angry though, I just wanted to bake.

This is my first time baking bread with cornmeal and I have to say it turned out pretty good. I know the traditional corn bread is made in a skillet and it has a crumbly but moist texture, however, I don't recall myself enjoying it (this was a long time ago). So last night I made this yummy corn bread with an adaptation of a recipe I found online. The first resting time was more than 2 hours because I had to go out with family so I don't know if that affects the bread or not (I don't think it should). The loaf was smaller than I really expected but I should have rolled it out a little longer. Oh well lol.
After taking it out of the oven, I couldn't even stand the 10 minute cool-down wait, but I managed with a little restraint (my brother took the loaf away from me) to cut it up and eat it. It is awesome served warm and with butter!The crust was fantastic and the texture was moist and a little bit grainy from the cornmeal. I will be using finer cornmeal next time for a smoother texture. 
More bread-baking to come soon!!

Look at that baby!
Sexy Close Up Shot
The interior; so irresistible!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pixel Cookies: Link from Zelda

I like to challenge myself. And when I do, I challenge myself to the extreme. I have come across "pixel" cookies a long time ago but I never got around to actually trying it out. "Pixel" cookies are basically shortbread cookie dough, cut/pressed into strips and are painstakingly put together into a log or rectangle which is then sliced into cookies to form an image of a pix-elated picture. I finally got my patience and confidence up after watching a video my brother showed me. So after trying to find an image or character, with intense research (by intense I mean sitting in my bed and typing in "pixel cookies" or "pixel characters" on Google lol), I came across a Link pixel cookie. I have always enjoyed making Zelda themed items (birthday cards, crafts and the such), so I made a decision on Link. But I wanted it to be different and I guess, unique (as can be), thus I came across a pixel Link painting on deviantArt and decided to use that as my reference.
Something you should know about me, is that I HATE math. I am absolutely HORRIBLE at it. Thus, I have never done so much "math" in my life, especially with a cookie. I needed to know how many "pixels" were in the image, plus figure out how many colors I needed and how much of each color; and what size I wanted the entire cookie to be was important also. It seemed like forever but I managed to somewhat figure it all out.
The cookie probably took me 12+ hours all together to assemble, minus baking time and chilling time (30 mins). The cookies were around 3 inches x 3.5 inches and are FLAVORED! Pandan (green) and coco-vanilla (white) flavored. Why? Cause I'm a cool Asian.
The recipe for the shortbread is somewhat "my" recipe. For a simpler and still delish recipe, the recipe that my friend and I used for our shark cookies is awesome too.

If you don't have the time or the patience to make these, you can purchase a made-to-order dozen here at my cookie shop.
(If you mention that you came across my blog, I'll give you a bakers' dozen.)

Buttery Shortbread Cookies

For 3 dozen:

2 cups flour
1 cup Corn Starch
1 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla

1. In a large bowl, combine flour, corn starch and icing sugar. Blend in softened butter with a wooden spoon then knead with hands until a soft, smooth dough forms. Divide dough into desired portions and work in desired colors.
2.Do whatever your heart desires.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are just starting to turn brown. Cool 10 mins on sheets then remove onto a rack and cool completely.

The log-rectangle thing!...before cutting

Ready to bake!!

Swirly Taro Bread!

I decided to try making these today because I had a chunk of taro sitting on my counter since Monday and it was beginning to bug me. It's a sweet bread with a sweet taro filling. Taro is a starchy root with a strong aroma and very bland taste. I made a sweet filling out of the it and rolled it up into loaves with some bread dough. The bread dough is the same dough I use to make Sweet Bread Buns. Taro is just boiled and mashed with sugar (to liking), about a cup of coconut gratings, 3 tbsp heavy cream and some red and blue food coloring for extra purple-ness (I'm going to use purple yam next time for natural color and sweetness).

Before Proofing 2nd time

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Shark-tastic Shortbread Cookies!

So, today, after a small adventure downtown, my best friend and I went back to her place to make some cookies. And not just any kind of cookies. Shortbread cookies. No, not the regular plain and beige melt-in-your-mouth delectable. We made shark cookies. Peppermint and vanilla, shark cookies. Why? Because sharks are cool and we are just cool like that. You should be jealous.
She used the Scotch Shortbread from The Joy of Cooking cookbook as a base and tweaked it a bit (coloring, flavoring, vegan butter/chocolate) to make these awesome cookies. The eye of the shark is a chocolate chip and she drew on the gills and mouth with homemade black icing. This whole procedure is thought out by my ingenious friend. She is an artist fo sho!

Shortbread Recipe

(Fig. 1.0) Angry Shark is angry 'cause we broke him...
1 cup butter, softened

Sift together:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar/icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Blend dry ingredients together with the creamed butter. Add flavorings or coloring, lightly knead until blended and shape as desired. Use you imagination!!
Bake in a 325 degrees F preheated oven for 20 minutes.
Let cookies cool a bit before transferring to a rack to cool completely or else cookie will break...(Fig. 1.0)

Black Icing
2 tbsp conefctioners' sugar
2 drops of each primary food coloring

Place all ingredients in a small sandwich bag, knot the bag and mix. Cut a corner off of the bag when ready to pipe/draw.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Boneless Turkey

 So...I had a frozen turkey lying around so, inspired by the endless bacon-filled epic-ness of Epic Meal Time videos, I made this: boneless turkey, stuffed with bread, pork, and bacon and wrapped in bacon. Roasted and then glazed with pure Canadian maple syrup, served with coarsely mashed potatoes and rye whiskey turkey gravy. Slices of my Saffron and Honey bread also accompanied the dish. I invited some family over for a small family dinner. It was an epic moment.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sweet Buns "Banh Mi Ngot"

My mom absolutely loves these sweet buns found in Chinese bakeries so I tried to make them at home. I searched up several recipes and finally emerged several recipes into my own. My method does not use a "bread paste" as a starter but I will try one in the the near future for my bread baking.

Sweet Bread Buns 

1 cup warm water
5 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar

1 1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 or 1 cup of sugar (depends on how sweet you like it)

2 eggs, beaten
5 tbsp oil

2 tsp salt
4 ½ cups of all purpose flour

Egg wash:
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp sugar

1.      Place yeast and sugar in a bowl. Add in water and whisk to dissolve. Let proof for 10 minutes.
2.      In a saucepan, heat milk, vanilla, butter and sugar while stirring; DO NOT LET IT BOIL. Remove from heat and let cool till warm to touch. Add in beaten eggs and stir with a wooden spoon till smooth. Add in oil.
3.      In a large bowl or a mixer bowl, add in 1 cup of flour and the yeast mixture. Mix by hand or a dough hook until combined. Add in milk mixture and continue to mix. Add in a cup of flour and the salt until it is fully incorporated; then add in another cup of flour. Repeat until all of the flour is used up and a sticky ball of dough is formed.
4.      Turn sticky dough on a smooth, clean surface, dusted with flour. Knead for 5-7 minutes adding more flour until dough is smooth and not longer sticky. Knead into a big ball. In a large bowl, grease with 2 tbsp oil and place dough inside. Cover with a towel and leave in a warm place for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Celsius.
5.      After 1 hour, dough should have raised double in bulk. Grease a round cake pan or a rectangular baking pan. Cut dough with a knife into equal portions, making each portion weigh around 50-70 grams; roll up into balls. Assemble into pans, leaving a bit of space between each ball for expansion.
6.      After you are done assembling, cover with a towel and leave for 1 hour.
Prepare egg wash by beating egg, sugar and milk together.
7.      After 1 hour, brush with egg wash, and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.(DO NOT OPEN OVEN DOOR WHILE THE BREAD IS BAKING)
When bread is done, let cool for 5 minutes, loosen sides with butter knife and remove from pans; transfer to racks and cool completely.

Good luck!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Caramel Flan

Caramel Flan with Spun Sugar

I am a flan lover. I LOVE flan. It's basically a custard dish that is baked using the Bain-Marie or water bath technique. I have always thought it would be difficult to make so I always buy the ready-made flan at my local Asian Market. Today, I finally decided to make it after doing a lot of research on recipes, variations and techniques. I found a simple recipe/method on YouTube and so here is my first attempt EVER, at making flan. AND IT WAS A SUCCESS!!
I made the basic caramel flavor and it was awesome. I also tried my hand at spun sugar, which was a bit of a hassle since it was also my first time and I didn't have enough patience to properly set up an area to "spin" the sugar. I burnt one finger because I forgot how hot the sugar syrup would be...silly me.
Recipe for the flan is written below.

Caramel Crust:
In a saucepan, melt around 3/4 cup sugar on medium heat until liquefied and caramel in color. Pour a thin layer into ramekins or custard cups. Set aside.


3 eggs
50 grams sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract/essence
500ml milk

In a bowl, gently whisk eggs and sugar together until sugar is dissolved. Add in vanilla extract and milk. Strain into a large measuring cup to remove the egg white strands and skim off any froth that is visible.
Pour mixture into ramekins, leaving 1 cm space between mixture and rim. Place ramekins in a roasting pan or double broiler and fill pan half way up with boiling water.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius and bake for 45 minutes until set. Remove and let cool on a rack for 10 minutes before placing into the fridge to chill for 4 hours. 
Loosen sides and flip onto a  plate (you may have to tap or shake it a bit for it to slide out).
Garnish with whatever you like or just serve plain. 


Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine Salmon Dinner

So for a Valentine Family Dinner, I cooked some sockeye salmon steaks in butter and served it with some baby bok choy green things and a warm Quinoa and Kalamata Olive Salad. Very simple, very delicious and perfect for the fish lovers in my family.
I had a Tuscan Veggie Chicken Breast with Tomato and Basil Sauce.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pink Pancakes: Stacks of Love

Happy day-early Valentine's Day to those who are luckily in love or those who celebrate this "holiday." This year I am single but that doesn't mean I can't share a bit of my love.
This irresistibly sweet stack of love is perfectly fit for this occasion. Pink Pancakes studded with chocolate chips, stacked between layers of Smuckers strawberry jam, smothered with bittersweet chocolate sauce and topped with a dollop of whipped cream and pink mint and chocolate chips. Can you feel the love yet?