Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Christmas Lasagnas!

Omg! I have never eaten so much in so little time! Christmas lasts a day but I ate enough to sustain a small village for a week!

Of course my family made our homemade meal that we planned months in advance like every year. So here it is!

Meat Lasagna!

We made our own pasta again this year.






And our own bolognese sauce! This sauce has 4 pounds of ground beef! 

(and yes, that sauce is so thick that the wooden spoon stands vertically up)




We had 3 layers of Ricotta cheese and spicy Italian sausages.





Here is the finished Product! (That, by the way, weighed SIXTEEN pounds)



Portobello Mushroom Lasagna!
For the vegetarians in the family.

My brother found these beautiful mushrooms





Here is the finished product: (Weighed 13 pounds if I remember correctly)





Saturday, 17 December 2011

Holiday baking! (Part 1)

I've finally finished my last exam before Christmas so naturally I spent the day baking with my family. Here's what we made!


My brothers made our mom's famous Coffee Cake. My mom has made this cake every Christmas for as long as I can remember.




This cake is made with sour cream and lots of butter. It has a toasted walnuts and sugar topping. Cover in icing sugar and it is delicious with a warm cup of coffee. 




I can't give away this recipe since it's a family secret... But here's a different recipe :)


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I also made some lemon shortbread. I made it in a traditional ceramic cookie mold. 




You just butter the bottom and flatten your cookie dough making sure it covers all the edges. Bake like a normal pan of shortbread.




Here's what it looks like once it comes out of the oven:




So pretty!! and delicious to boot!



Ingredients:

1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Line two baking sheets with parchment. Combine the butter, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer bowl (use the paddle attachment) or a large mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until the butter combines with the sugar but isn't perfectly smooth, 1 to 2 min. Add the flour and lemon zest and mix on low speed, scraping the bowl frequently, until the dough has just about pulled together, about 3 minutes; don't overmix.

Roll: On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Aim for a uniform thickness to ensure even baking.

Cut: Cut the dough into bars or squares with a sharp knife or, using cookie cutters, cut out shapes as close to one another as possible. Press the scraps together, roll them out, and cut out more cookies. If the dough becomes sticky, refrigerate it briefly. Arrange the cookies on two parchment-lined baking sheets and chill at least 20 min.

Bake: Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F. Bake the cookies until golden on the bottom and edges and pale to golden on top, 30 minutes to 1 hour. (After 15 min., swap the position of the baking sheets and rotate them 180 degrees for even baking.) If the cookies are done before 30 min., reduce the oven temperature to 275°F for the remaining batches; if they take longer than 1 hour, increase the temperature to 325°F.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A Break from these Carbs (Part 2)

Photo by Alex E


Glorious nothing

              Do you miss the stars? We always miss what we leave behind no matter how much we wanted to escape. The stars are the first things I missed. I look up into the sky at night now and all I see is blackness; the sad empty sky towering over the lonely skyscrapers. I long to stand in a field once again; total blackness engulfing me but for the twinkling lights just beyond my reach. Glittering specks that have inspired great thinkers and philosophers are plentiful in my hometown.
            In the busy streets of Montreal, the air is never odourless. Fumes from the nonstop traffic and factories taint our lungs and throats. You can almost see the clouds of smog in front of you as you walk down Sainte-Catherine. Sewers and pipes line the streets pumping out waste to further pollute our fragile environment. Walking down Main Street of Bedford, you might be lucky to see a car pass. Refreshing breezes come in from the west and fill our nose with the smell of far off places we dreamed of visiting as a child. The occasional hint of cut grass or whiff of manure might awaken your senses. In autumn, what is more wonderful than the scent of thousands upon thousands of fallen leaves?
            Honk-honk! Drill-drill! The clatter of city life is endless. Outside you can barely hear yourself speak let alone think. Sirens pass and covering your ears becomes a necessity. You cannot even escape the nonstop cacophony once you are inside. Music of poor taste blasts from speakers in shopping malls and restaurants. Ringing of cell phones and blackberries disturb the peace when we are lucky enough to find it. If there is no mechanical device provoking our headaches then it is our neighbour talking too loud on the bus or the barking dogs at night. The constant chatter of hundreds of people in a public area is like white noise; hard to understand, not very loud, but always in the background. Never will you hear the sound of nature like a trickling brook; bubbly and happy as it flows down to the ocean. Nor will you catch the ruffling of a leaf made by a chipmunk scurrying away. In a municipality where there is only one fire truck, one ambulance and not a police car in sight, the scream of a siren would be the talk of the town for weeks. Sometimes, you can sit outside and listen to the chirping of chickadees and woodpeckers in the early mornings and, other times, you can just sit and hear nothing; glorious nothing.




Monday, 5 December 2011

Last Christmas (2010)

It's already December and all I can think about is Christmas!!! It's a shame that there's still no snow on the ground yet but Christmas music can turn any mood cheery. Every Christmas, my family plans our meal months in advance. Last Christmas was no exception. We decided to make Homemade ravioli. It took a whole day since we had to make the pasta, roll it out and then fill it with cheese. 


Step 1. : Make dough


Pasta dough is basically 4 ingredients: Flour, eggs, water and salt.




Step 2: Roll dough out


Now this step usually requires a pasta roller. It is not necessary but makes life a lot more easier. 




You will get a very looooooong sheet of pasta now. (Extra long table recommended)




Step 3: Fill with delicious cheese or meat.




Step 4: Cut the ravioli and let dry




Step 5: Cook and Enjoy!!! :D




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If you have leftover dough, then you can just cut it in strips and make fettuccine with it.





Happy Festive Season!


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Monday, 28 November 2011

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I made this cake about a year ago and it is one of my favorite cakes in the world. It has 4 Tbsp of red coloring in the batter so the cake comes out a rich red. I find that all the best frostings are made up of cream cheese, butter and sugar. This one is no exception. I especially love this cake because of the berries found in the middle of the 2 layers. I had never seen this before and had never even thought of doing it either. 

Here's what the cake looks like before it is completely frosted...




The brightness doesn't really show from this picture. Imagine a deep red of a cranberry. That's what the cake looked like.  The recipe is from Bon Appetit Desserts: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful


Here is the recipe:



Ingredients:


CAKE

  • 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs

FROSTING

  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 1/2-pint baskets fresh raspberries
  • 3 1/2-pint baskets fresh blueberries

Preparation


FOR CAKE:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. 
    Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. 
    Sift sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. 
    Whisk buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in small bowl to blend. 
    Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. 
    Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. 
    Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions.
  • Divide batter between prepared pans.
  • Bake cakes about 27 minutes. Cool a bit and turn cakes out onto racks then cool completely.

FOR FROSTING:

  • Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth.
  • Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
  • Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter.
  • Spread 1 cup frosting over top of cake. 
    Arrange 1 basket raspberries and 1/2 basket blueberries atop frosting, pressing lightly to adhere. 
    Top with second cake layer, flat side down. 
    Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. 
    Arrange remaining berries decoratively over top of cake. 



Unfortunately I don't have a picture of my cake completely frosted but I did find a picture of what the cake looks like in the book. 




It tastes as good as it looks!




Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Wait, Isn't There Something Missing...

I guess you've been wondering where the "meats" part of my blog is. Well, the name was actually thought up by my mom. My brother is an amazing cook and we were imagining our own cooking/baking business. We were trying to come up with catchy names and "Sweets & Meats" popped into my mom's head. So far I've been concentrating on the "sweets" side but I think it's time for some meats.


I don't cook as often as I bake so there won't be as many posts about cooking as there are about deserts but I don't think that will make anybody sad :P


Here is what I've been making for the past couple of weeks:


Homemade Pizza




The crust is homemade and is just a simple white flour crust. I rolled it extra thin because I hate thick soggy crust under my pizza. The tomatoes sauce I used is a homemade marinara sauce made with our own fresh tomatoes that we cored and froze in the summer. There are thinly sliced red onions and you can throw them directly on the pizza without caramelizing them first. The onions are sliced so thinly that they cook perfectly in the oven and taste sweet. This saves you hours of caramelizing. You can add any topping of course and on this pizza pie there's pepperoni and fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese.


Enjoy.






Monday, 14 November 2011

The Best Things Come in Small Packages

Macarons
There is a lot of appeal in small desserts. Cupcakes are à la mode and the new cookies that everyone is craving are macarons. I don't know what it is... Maybe the delicate decorations and the cuteness of the bite-size portions, or maybe it's just because you don't feel as guilty eating them. Whatever the reason, no one can resist these tiny sweets... including me.


Not only can we make miniature cakes and colorful cookies, we can also make small pies :) 
Nom nom nom...

Bite-Size pecan sugar pies:


I got this recipe from a book called Petite Sweets: Bite-Size Desserts to Satisfy Every Sweet Tooth. These pies were delicious! The crust was made with cream cheese, butter and flour so it just flaked and melted in your mouth. The filling has chunks of roasted pecans which adds a nice crunch to the whole ensemble. The filling is also made with maple syrup! Mmmmm.
The best thing about this recipe is that you don't have to cook the crust before you add the filling like a normal sized pie. 

Before going into the oven

The recipe I used makes 24 of these mini pies. They are about 2cm in diameter and you can eat one in one bite. I think I ate 5 of them at once. That's how good they are!




Sunday, 30 October 2011

Mouahaha!!

I don't really like Halloween... Especially the dressing up part. Call me boring but I will only dress up when someone makes me (and then I'm not happy about it.) 

But I guess I must write something to acknowledge the season so here we go.

















This week I made a buttery vanilla cake which takes merely 10 minutes to whip up and is extremely easy to make. Anyone can make it! I'm not exactly sure where the recipe came from. 

Lazy Daisy Cake:

Ingredients:
2 eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp cream
1/2 cup of either shredded coconut or any coarsely chopped nut.

Beat the eggs and vanilla until frothy and light (About 30 seconds)
Gradually add the granulated sugar and mix
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
Then add the dry ingredients to the egg and sugar mixture.
In the microwave, heat the milk and 1 tbsp of butter. (Now you must be fast) Add that to the egg mixture and poor it in an 8" pan. You must do this step quickly because the warm milk will react with the baking powder and we want it to start baking as quickly as possible.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350°F

Meanwhile... 
In a small saucepan, heat 3 tbsp of butter, brown sugar, cream and the 1/2 cup of coconut (or nuts)
Heat until everything melts (Takes only a couple of minutes)

When the cake is done, pull it our of the oven and pour melted butter + sugar mixture on the top of the cake.
Broil the cake and keep a very close eye on it because it will burn easily. Broil until the top becomes a nice golden brown (Takes seconds)

And this is what you get! It looks really simple and not that delicious looking but I assure you its really good and buttery. It's my favorite cake to eat when I'm in a hurry and I just want some sweetness.


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BOO!!



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