Monday, December 6, 2010

Pumpkin pie pots and one week before the giveaway

We had our first snow storm today *sigh*
Don't get me wrong, fluffy white snow floating in the air is cute, but when they are flying at 300 km/hour and hitting your face at full speed? NOT so fluffy, and especially NOT so cute...

With the cold weather comes the face stuffing. This is the time most of us try to stay healthy and some of us fail miserably towards the end of the path. I mean, can you really blame us? "Jolly" and "holiday season" go side by side! Nonetheless, if you ARE trying to find healthier alternative, here is one option for a yummy no crust pumpkin pie. It was made just like my usual pumpkin pie, just slightly one and a half more time of pumpkin puree. The sole reason was because I wanted to eat more and have even more of a pumpkin taste to the dessert.

Pumpkin pie pots (serves about 8-10)
  • 2 eggs
  • 15 - 25 oz pureed pumpkin
  • 1 can 12-oz evaporated milk (I used fat-free)
  • 1 tsp. brandy (I used rum, and a couple tsp more...)
  • 1 C packed brown sugar (I thought it was perfect but you might prefer it to be sweeter)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

 Heat oven to 350F. Prepare a bain-marie by placing ramekins in a baking pan.

Combine eggs, pumpkin, evaporated milk and rum in a pot over medium low heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, 5-7 minutes.

Put brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in a mixing bowl and add the pumpkin mixture. Pour everything into ramekins, pour hot water into the baking pan, just about to midway of the ramekins. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until set.

Cooled for about 1 hour. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

As the holidays come creeping up on us, it would be a great time for you to give your loved ones, who love to cook and bake, a copy of Foodista Best Of Food Blogs Cookbook (in which, yours truly is featured on page 158)

picture courtesy of my awesome boyfriend
So as a reminder, for those on the Canadian side of the blogosphere who are interested in getting your hands on one of these, come leave me a comment and the draw will be on Sunday December 12th :) Have fun and good luck!!!

I have just used and the winner is Jessica!!!!!! Congratulations Jessica and thank you for participating. I hope you enjoy the book :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My first giveaway!!!

Sometimes when the world seems dark and nasty, filled with daily horrendous news, we need a big dose of goodness to remind us of how it also has its great side. And when that goodness comes your way, make sure you appreciate every moment that it remains.

Mine was Cupcake Camp Montreal this passed Thursday. I cannot express how deeply touched I was/am to see so many people came together for a great cause. I can honestly say that I am SO proud to have been a part of such an awesome event.

20000 cupcakes were donated by bakers and sponsors like myself.
2500 awesome Montrealers braved the cold and waited in line for hours at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, not counting those who never actually made it inside...
$34000 was raised for Kids Help Phone and La Tablee des Chefs.


 I donated 200 of these COOCOO BANANA SPLIT cupcakes: banana cup(cake)bread, Italian meringue vanilla buttercream, chocolate drizzles with a cherry on top.

This was my entry for Montreal Theme cupcake.

Now, as you all know (or not... but the fact that you are reading this means you now do...) that I am one of the 100 food bloggers featured in the Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook that was released on October 19th. Thanks to Barnaby Dorfman and Sheri L.Wetherell, I was even able to meet a few fellow published bloggers at the party a couple of weeks ago in NYC.

To top all this off, the nice people over at Simon and Schuster sent me over a copy of the book so I can hold a giveaway, just for you! Isn't life great?!

So, if you are in Canada and would like to win this awesome cookbook, simply leave me a comment (please, no anonymous!!! LOL!) about anything really, and the winner will be announced on Sunday evening,  December 12th. I will most likely be using for the choosing process.

I must keep this post short and sweet (literally!) and go back to baking goodies for the bake sale tomorrow. We are raising money for Movember like we did last year, and all profits will go to help fund research to keep our men healthy :) Good night and good luck!!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Home-made baked corn dogs

Yes, you read right, BAKED CORN DOGS. Ok, so the baked version of something fried always has its compromise BUT a picky 6 year old eater proclaimed her love for these yummies, so.... need I say more?

These corn dogs are more on the corn-muffin-covered side, but they are quite good nonetheless, and they are really quick to make too. I actually made them in the toaster oven because they were small enough to fit in the small baking pan.

After consulting a few recipes online, I decided to try this one and added a couple of things I saw from the others. If you don't have lollipop sticks, use popsicle sticks or skewers.

Home-made baked corn dogs
(serves 2 adults and 2 kids)
  • 1 cup fine cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. mustard powder
  • 1 ¼ cup buttermilk (or just milk)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 5 chicken wieners, cut in half
  • flour for dusting
  • water for wetting hands
Heat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda salt and mustard powder, and make a well in the center. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, the egg and the oil until well combined. Add to the well in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Insert a stick into each of the hot dog half. Dip each hot dog into the flour, then shake of excess with one hand. Wet the other hand, grab some batter and spread it out in your hand into a somewhat square or rectangle, and place the hotdog right in the middle, turning to cover.

Place on the prepared bake sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.

Serve with mustard and ketchup. If your kids end up not liking these, well, at least you'll know in your heart, that you once tried to make them healthy corn dogs.

Also, you can make this into a vegan version, by replacing the egg with egg substitute, wieners with soydogs, and milk with almond milk.  Enjoy!!!! :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A giveaway and a yummy Apple Pie Bar recipe

Happy Halloween to all you zombies, monsters and ghosts out there gathering around your witch's brew. I hope your Saturday night parties were great fun and that you are spending more time treating than tricking.

I, did just that for the passed few days. Lots and lots of treats... Oof!!!! If it wasn't for the love of making treats, I think sugar and I would have to go on a break for a while...

Gluten-free chocolate cake pops, with added kicks of Nutella, Frangelico and Amaretto liqueur

 This guy here, is my favorite!!!!!

On another fun note, a week and a half ago, I was interviewed online along with the East Coast Canadians featured in the Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook. A few days later I received my copy and my excitement went through the roof. It really only hit me then, how proud I am to be featured amongst all the amazing food bloggers from all over the world and their delicious recipes. I mean, I have been estatic ever since I found out, but until I was actually flipping through the pages, it all just felt unreal. Thanks so much to the people at Andrews McMeel Publishing and Foodista for the chance to be in this first ever social media cookbook.

As that wasn't cool enough, there is a sale promotion for the book on November 3rd, between 10 and 11 am PDT / 1-2 pm Eastern Time, and Foodista is holding a giveaway with really cool prizes. Go ahead and enter to win!!! I can't wait to see how this turns out :)

Now, onto yummy things.... Apple Pie Bar!!!! This is of course, from THE book, and the author is The Runaway Spoon in Memphis.
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (I used 3/4 cup)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar (I used 1/2 cup, and 1.5 cup apple syrup that I saved from this apple pie)
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 large baking apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped ( I didn't have any! So no apples in mine...)
  • 6 ounces butterscotch chips (I used a handful)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray (I used an 8x8 because I figured without the apples, it wouldn't take up a 9x13)
In the bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly combine the oil, eggs and sugar.  Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, soda and spices together in a bowl, then add to the oil mixture in the mixer, beating until thoroughly mixed.  The batter will be thick.
Use a sturdy spoon to stir in the apple pieces.  Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it out evenly.  Sprinkle the butterscotch chips over the top, pressing them into the batter lightly.
Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, until the golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan slightly.
Cool thoroughly and cut into squares.

As I am blogging this, pieces have already started to disappear from the baking pan. Yes, it's REALLY yummy! Enjoy and I hope you enter to win! (P.S: I don't have any financial gain from sales of the book. This stems purely from passion and support)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to all Canadians!

Long weekends are like eating something sinfully delicious, then finding out that it's low-fat, low-cal and actually good for you, and so you get to grab another serving to indulge in. Right, it doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it's SO good! Happy Thanksgiving to all Canadians!!! I hope you all spent great times with your families and had all kind of delicious comfort food.

Now, this apple pie is definitely not like a long weekend, but you WILL have more than one slice, because it is THAT good. I doubled the recipe and tweaked it a bit by adding more spices and using things that I had on hand. The whole process takes a bit longer than your typical slice, toss and bake, but the result is an apple pie that doesn't sink.

The Unsinkable apple pie, originally by Bill Brady
  • 2 pie shells
  • 3 Golden Delicious apples
  • 3 McIntosh apples
  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 pieces candied ginger, cut into a small dice
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp instant tapioca
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • egg wash of 1 beaten egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
While pie shells are thawing (I know, I know... I keep putting off making pie dough, but the pie shells were on sale!!!!) peel and core apples. Quarter them, and then slice each quarter into 4 slices. While doing so, gradually add sugar and lemon juice and toss the apples. Once done all the apples, add candied ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well to coat.

Heat oven to 450F

Put apple mix in a pot over medium low heat, stirring once in a while until everything has reduced but not cooked. Mix in tapioca. Remove from heat and let cool.
Strain apples and do it thoroughly (Save the syrup, it will be so good on ice cream!) Spoon filling into bottom pie shell, mounding in the middle. Dot with butter and cover top with the other pie shell. Make a few slits for steam to escape. Then lightly brush top with egg-wash and sprinkle brown sugar on top.

Bake in oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F and continue baking for another 45 minutes or until crust is golden.

Being thankful shouldn't take just a dinner or two over a long weekend in the fall. Many of us are more lucky than we know it, and it's so easy to take everything for granted. We forget about the humble things that really matter. We postpone telling our loved ones how we feel about them until it's too late. We are quick to complain and don't realize that there are places in the world, where people have nothing, yet are still thankful just to be alive and well.

So share a slice, tell your loved ones how much you appreciate them. Tell them that every chance you get, not just this weekend.

Enjoy! :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Apologizing with good news

Ok... so it's been a LONG time since my last post, I do apologize to all [3]of you who actually read my yacking.... I've been busy with life, work and cakes, and so, I haven't actually cooked, this WHOLE time... Trust me, I'm hanging my head in shame...

But today, I have great news to share... I've won a spot in the The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook!!! This is very exciting for me, because that means I will own a cook book with one of my recipes in it!!!! MINE!!!! Woo!!!! So let's take a moment and go back in time to when I made this Mango Avocado Ice cream, and say to me: "Tramie, one day, this recipe will be in a book, we believe in you!"
I'm hoping that by writing this post tonight, I'm kicking myself in the bum and urging myself back in the kitchen to cook things that aren't just sweet, so once again, thank you for taking your time to read my blog, I will not disappoint!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fluffy quick pancakes for rainy days

I love summer. I really do. It's a genuine love. But in every great love, there is usually a twist... and this love of mine involves sudden pouring rain and thunder attacking me from nowhere, with no warning.

Feeling betrayed and shock, not to mention cold and wet, I needed something comforting for my tummy. ASAP. Something warm, fluffy and sweet.

Ah yes, pancakes for dinner! Pancakes with love (short for maple syrup)

I usually make the Jamie Oliver recipe, which calls for whipping the egg whites then folding it into the batter. Not today. No sir, I can't make that commitment today. I need something quick.

Pancakes, recipe from Mochachocolata-Rita who adapted it from Allrecipe

In a mixing bowl, put together:
  • 1 C all purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp sugar (I only used 1)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • a couple dashes of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
then add:
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 C milk (I used whole milk)
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
and mix with a whisk til well blended.

Heat pan over medium heat. If using non-stick pan, you won't need to add oil before cooking. Ladle batter and cook until one side starts to bubble, flip and continue cooking the other side. Makes about 10 medium (It depends what you consider medium is...)

Have I mentioned they're fluffy? Really, REALLY fluffy... Plain, simple, unpretentious fluffy pancakes with deliciously sweet maple syrup and a dot of semi-salted butter.

I ate everything. The whole stack. That has never happened before.


Just look at that blob of butter sliding right off of the warm pancakes... You want some, don't you? Go ahead and make them! You'll see... you're going to eat them all up before they even get to the table...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Simple salad

It's going to be a short and sweet post today. Right to the point. What you see is what you get.
It's healthy. It's yummy. It's quick to make. It requires no cooking. And did I mention that it's yummy?

It's a salad packed with good-for you things.

  • 1 can of beans of your choice (I used a mix) rinsed under cold water.
  • 1 ear of corn, cooked, shaved
  • 2 stalks of celery, cubed
  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
  • a handful of sliced olives, black or green
  • a handful of pickled pearl onions, halved
  • a bunch of parsley (curly) washed and chopped
  • a few splashes of olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zest and juiced
  • a couple pinches of sea salt 
Mix everything together and let sit for about 30 minutes. Ta-da!

Serve with some grilled chicken on top, or with a sandwich if you like. I was content eating it as is. Simply happy food :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A somewhat healthier pumpkin pie

It's spring!!! The season of sun (supposedly...) flowers, yummy fruits and veggies. It's the season of the birds and the bees (understand that however you want to...) This is when we tend to lean toward the fresh, light tasting dishes, unlike in fall and winter where we need our dose of comfort food and cozy blankies. But because every season is a season to make someone happy, I made a pumpkin pie smack dab in the middle of spring.

Thank goodness for the canned stuff!

Now, most pies are things of fall and winter. Pies make us think of Christmas and Thanksgiving. They make us think of that warm, spicy and comfy feeling in our tummy after the first bite. But THIS pie is LIGHT! It's really not too sweet and dare I say, healthy-ER than most pies (Yes, i said it! *gasp*) Obviously, there is the crust to be considered in the equation, but who's checking?!

I got this recipe from Cast Sugar who got it from Chicago Tribune and the only reason for why mine is a tad lighter is due to the fat-free evaporated milk.

  • 9 inch pie shell, baked according to recipe or package. Cooled.
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can 15-oz pureed pumpkin
  • 1 can 12-oz evaporated milk (I used fat-free)
  • 1 tsp. brandy (I used rum, and a couple tsp more...)
  • 3/4 C packed brown sugar (I thought it was perfect but you might prefer it to be sweeter)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 C sweetened toasted pecans (I made mine with maple syrup) optional
Heat oven to 425F.

Combine eggs, pumpkin, evaporated milk and rum in a pot over medium low heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, 5-7 minutes.

Put brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in a mixing bowl and add the pumpkin mixture. Pour everything into the crust and bake for 10 minutes.

Lower heat to 350F and bake another 35-45 minutes, or until set. Arrange pecans around rim then let stand until cooled, about 1 hour. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Maple cinnamon pecans
  • 1/2 C pecan, toasted in a pan over medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes
  • 1 tsp maple syrup 
  • 1/4 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
Toss everything together until pecans are well toasted. Spread on a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper. While pie is baking, stick the sheet in the oven on the lower rack for 5 minutes or so. Let cool then decorate when pie is done.

Now, this pie might taste even better if you listen to this song while eating it... It's about a merchant who has the best pumpkin pie recipe ever and wouldn't give it away to a corporate guy... And then you should really hear the part at the end when the credit rolls.

Enjoy a slice and the song, pumpkins!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Too-tired-to-think oven baked trout

Has it ever happened to you, being so tired, you couldn't think of what to make for dinner, so you eat oatmeal instead?

Yes, me too... *sigh*....

Functioning on half a brain lately due to my love for making these babies, I haven't had much time to do the other thing I like so much: cooking. Shame...

So a couple of days ago, when a bunch of lovely trout filets caught my eyes, I knew I couldn't resist and that no matter what happened that night, I was going to cook.

Here comes the best part: the quick marinade of, seriously, random things I picked out from the fridge that made sense at the time...  And it turned out great!!!!!! So here is how it all went down:

Too-tired-to-think oven baked trout:

Oven at 400*F. Line a baking pan with foil, then parchment paper, so you have no cleaning up to do afterward.

Pull out the big mixing bowl, and toss in there:
  • About 1 to 2 Tbsp of olive oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar.
  • A couple of splashes of balsamic reduction
  • A chunk of wasabi
  • A squeeze of oyster sauce
  • A few splashes of lemon juice
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • A pinch of turmeric powder (because it is good for your health, read here!)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • A few cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped.

Whisk it all together. Drench the filets of trout in the mix, and be generous! Place them in the baking pan. pour the rest of the marinade on top, and bake for about 20 minutes or so. Ta-da, done!

Look at that yummy flesh... Hmm... it was delicious! And the yellow spots? That's the turmeric doing its healthy things for ya! ;)

Eat! Relax for half an hour or so. Now go do the other things that you have to get done. Good luck!!! :)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lactose-free *KBAM!* fruit mix gelato

There are many happy moments in life. From big moments like becoming a home owner, to medium moments like getting a discount on a great pair of shoes, to little moments like eating ice cream on a sunny day, or any day for that matter (I'm easily amuse, what can I say...)

Then there are sad moments...  From losing someone you love, to seeing a baby bird with a clipped wing, to hearing someone say: "Oh... no ice cream for me, I'm lactose intolerant..."

In those lactose related moments, I always feel a little bad that I'd be enjoying my cone of ice cream in the person's face. So the other day, while pondering about such matters, I wondered why they don't make lactose-free ice cream, or at least gelato, since gelato is made with milk and there is definitely lactose-free milk. Maybe the demand isn't high enough?

Whatever the reason may be, I've got a recipe for you if you are in a rut with milk... KBAM! Actually, that  just stands for Kiwi, Banana, Avocado, Mango and the ! is really just my excitement expressed in writing. LOL!!!

Lactose-free *KBAM!* fruit gelato
(makes about 3-4 cups) 
Fruit mixture
  • 1 Ataulfo mango, ripe, chopped
  • 5 kiwis, chopped (3 for the blending and 2 for added chunks)
  • 1 avocado, ripe, chopped
  • 1 medium banana, ripe, chopped
  • a splash of lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1-3 tbsp milk (to make the blending easier on your machine, lactose-free in this case)
Blend everything except for 2 kiwis, in a blender. Place in fridge to cool for a few hours. Put the rest of the chopped kiwi in the freezer.

  • 2 eggs, whole
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cups sugar (depend on how sweet u like it)
  • 1 cup milk 2% (lactose-free in this case)
Whisk eggs and sugar together until blended. Add milk and stir well. Put mixture into a pot over low heat, cook and stir constantly until mixture is a custard (check that it coats the back of the spoon) Remove and cool completely.

Mix custard and fruit thoroughly, then cool again in the fridge for at least a couple of hours or over night. Then churn in ice cream maker as according to manufacturer's  instruction.  At the last 5 minutes of churning, throw in the frozen kiwi chunks.

Freeze your ice cream until ready to enjoy.

The result is a creamy, fruity, satisfying concoction that won't be stomach-stabbing. The best part for me in all this is to hear: "I was perfectly fine after eating it!!!!"

I will be trying out other flavors soon, so keep an eye out! Let's get together to save lactose intolerant people, one spoon of gelato at a time ;)

P.S: Here is a peek into my latest cakes :D You may also check them out on my Flickr page here!!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

pI love you!

I'm not really a "pie person", but I adore the smell of baking pies in the house. There is something so loving and cozy about the fragrant spices and the steamy bubbly filling that makes me want to hug someone special.

And on cold rainy days like these, we can all use some love, hugs and a couple of slices of warm pies. So go call someone you love, tell them that you're coming over in an hour and get in that kitchen!  

Quick apple ginger pie
(makes 1 pie)
  • 2 pie shells (1 if you want an open-faced pie)
  • 4 medium apples, peel, cored, quartered and sliced
  • a small knob of fresh ginger, a little less than an inch or so, minced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • about 1/2 cup sugar (I used half brown and half white)
  • about 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • about 1/2 to 1 tsp ground nutmeg (depending on how much you like the spice) 
  • about 1 Tbsp flour
  • egg wash, optional (1 egg white and a tsp of water)
  • a few pinches of sugar for sprinkles
Heat oven to 375*F

If you are using frozen pie shells (yes... I cheated... LOL) thaw them out on the counter for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the prepared apple slices, ginger, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour together. Put everything into the first pie shell.

Take the second pie shell and drape over the pie. Make a cross in the middle for the steam to escape while the pie bakes. Brush egg wash on top, and sprinkle some sugar on top, liberally.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or so, or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling.

Now, bring it to that someone and spread the love, one slice at a time.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

War is over!!!

No... not that war... I'm sorry (hang head down in shame)... It's just the war between macarons and I.

Today, after the seventh attempt to tackle those sons of b****** cutie pies, I declare peace. A success with shine, dome and feet reigns upon us. The sun even came out to celebrate our victory. I can almost hear the music...

This has been a long and somewhat disastrous voyage, haunting me since last year.  The first time I tried to make macarons, they ended up shine-less, dry and feet-less... *sigh* it was a sad day... Then there were the ones that somehow became amaretti cookies... Then last week, they were just down right hollow, extremely shiny with feet, as if just to piss me off.

Thank goodness I'm so f**king stubborn. I wasn't giving up until I get it right.

So this is it, no more swearing and pulling out my hair at 2am talking to baked egg whites.  No more over-dosing on epic failed cookies with increasing anger after every bite. No more mumbling bad words at people who walk by with tubes of macarons from the cute pastry shops on the Plateau. No more! Yes, I mean it, I might never make macarons again now that it's done. LOL!!!!!

I read a lot on macarons, more than I'd like to remember, and  most people "fold" with delicacy. A few however, beat the crap out of the meringue when mixing in the almond meal. (I would have had to use that if the lucky seventh  failed) Fortunately, this war ended with no violence.

So after reading many awesome bakers and dessert chefs out there (David Lebovitz, Tartelette, A La Cuisine!, etc) this is how it all went down:

Macarons shells 
(makes about 60 shells, so 30 macarons)
  • 1 cup almond meal (I ground my own natural almonds, then put it in the oven on a baking sheet with really low temperature to dry it out)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 100-110 g egg white, left out on the counter loosely covered for at least 24 hrs (about 3-4 egg whites, I actually used the stuff from the box because of so many fails, I didn't want to have all the yolks left over)
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • powder color
Sift the almond meal and powdered sugar together, making sure there are no lumps.

Beat (in a stand mixer or hand-held, with a whisk attachment) the aged egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the 1/4 of sugar. When soft peaks form, add desired color and continue beating until peaks are firm. 

Add the almond meal mix into the meringue, in 3 batches. Fold the mixture delicately to not break the meringue and do a total of not more than 50 times.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Fill a piping bag with a plain tip of 1-2cm or so and pipe equal circles of your desired size (1.5-2 inches is usually the case) Let them sit for 30-60 minutes, until they have formed a skin on top, then bake in a 300F oven for 8-12 minutes depending on the size of the shells.

Cool completely before filling

Quick peanut butter, Nutella & banana liqueur filling
Mix peanut butter and Nutella together and add the liqueur. Fill the macaron shells.

Enjoy!!!!! Because nothing tastes better than victory!

Friday, March 12, 2010

A letter to Spring

Dear Spring,

Sitting here on a Friday night, with a patch on my left eye (don't ask... it's not that interesting really....) I realized that I have been slacking off on the blogging and the cooking, and I have a perfect excuse for it.

Cakes!!! Yes, cake is always a good excuse for anything!

I have been selling cupcakes to a little restaurant downtown and making quite a few cakes as well, so getting home from work means the oven heats up, the fondant starts rolling or the Cuisinart mixer is in over time. Sometimes it's all of the above.

I know for a fact that many cooks/bakers out there, just like me, what makes them most happy is to see the reaction on people's face when u cook/bake for them. Seeing the different emotions people have is like getting an endorphin shot for me. Shocked, ecstatic, amazed, amused, confused. All in a good way mind you. The one thing that always happens with the cakes, is they don't want to cut them LOL!

 A quick Optimus Prime cake for friend 30th birthday. Chocolate cake & strawberry buttercream. 
I didn't have the right colors, so I had to paint over it after, hence the streak :(

Banana cake and Amaretto buttercream. The colors and the little characters on the cake are from the birthday girl sketch book. She's amazing!!!!

For two very lucky birthday girls who have such caring people in their lives. Chocolate cake, Vanilla cake and both with strawberry buttercream.

Left: For 1 of my best friends' 30th birthday, green tea cake & dark chocolate matcha  ganache. 
Right: Baby shower for my soon-to-be niece, chocolate cake and strawberry buttercream.

My happiness goes into overload when afterward, people come to tell me "It not only looks good, it tastes delicious!" My heart literally flutters... Yeah, nerd, I know LOL!

...*Sigh*... I have nothing to complain about. Life is simply yummy and beautiful. The sun is coming out more often. I've switched to a lighter jacket and no longer wear my boots. The birds are getting louder. The squirrel who lives in the tree behind my house seem to appear more often (I don't know where he is hiding his food, but he seems to be carrying something EVERY SINGLE TIME!)

So Spring, will you please come and stay a while? I promise I won't take you for granted. I will enjoy you to the fullest all the while not forgetting how lucky I am compared to thousands and thousands of other people in the world. I won't pout when you need to rain. I will accept you even with the cold breeze that you sometimes bring. I know nothing lasts forever, and you will eventually leave, but I think we will have a great time together.

Your faithful friend, "Tramie"
Waiting for you.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Indian-inspired lentil soup

We all need a little lift from now and then to keep our spirit high. When something goes wrong, we have to remember all the other good people & things that are still there with us, and it may sooth the pain. These are times when we need to keep our heart & tummy warm, because the temperature refuses to collaborate.

I came to making this soup out of literally whatever I had in the house. The only thing that I had to go buy, was the fresh parsley. Let me tell you, tough out the cold bum and run to the store to get it, because it adds a really nice touch.

 Indian-inspired lentil soup (makes about 10 servings)
  • a splash of olive oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • a couple cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 can of Italian tomatoes, whole
  • 2 boxes of chicken broth (about 2L)
  • 1 large bunch of curly parsley, washed, stemmed and roughly chopped. And a few for garnish
  • about 1 cup of dried lentil, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (or more depends on your taste)
  • Chili flakes if desired
  • Lemon, sliced 

Heat oil in a big pot over medium heat, add onions and garlic, cook for a few minutes until fragrant but not burnt. Add the tomatoes & the juice, mash them up in small chunks with a wooden spoon. Then add the chicken broth, leaving about half of a box for thinning the soup later.

Turn heat to maximum, add the parsley and the lentils. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are soft. Add the masala, curry and chili flakes half way and mix well.

Serve with fresh parsley for garnish, with some freshly ground black pepper, and a small wedge of lemon. It really kicks it up a notch (unfortunately I didn't get the lemon when I made this, boo!)

****I put this soup into individual microwavable containers for lunch, and before taking them to work, I would add a bit of chicken broth, because it thickens up quite a lot

It is Valentine's Day weekend, and I made some cakes for the occasion, for an order. One was a "kitsch" Birthday/Valentines Day theme (yes, "kitsch" was an important part of the order) It was chocolate layer cake with fresh strawberry buttercream.

Yeehaw!!!!! Chocolate layer cake with fresh strawberry butter-cream

And then there were the cute cupcakes *sigh*...

From front to back: Cinnamon "bun" & Orange butter-cream, Double amaretto, Green Tea & Lemon butter-cream, Double Root Beer

I wish you all a wonderful weekend with your Valentine (although I am sure that everyday is Valentine's Day for a lot of you *wink*) Share some soup, share some cupcakes. Most importantly, spread the love!