Sunday, May 20, 2018

Raindrop Cake - Two Different Flowery Versions

You have to try this cutie of a dessert from Japan.  A raindrop cake, here is a link to some background info and a look at the original serving procedure and design. One of my version makes use of in season flowers, we had some fragrant lilacs ready to be infused.  The other version uses a favourite candy.

Start with 1/2 of a stick of Agar Agar.  Soak this in water for 30 minutes to soften.  Squeeze out the excess water  and add to 3 cups of boiling water with 2 tsp. of sugar dissolved in it.  Stir until dissolved and strain into dome shaped molds, like the mold pictured below.  Place in the refrigerator.  There will be a bit left over, I use this as a testers to see how far along the gel is.  Just put into small vessels about the size of the molds.

When, the water cools and is very softly set, I add any goodies I want to see thru the raindrop.  In this case a single little lilac flower.  Leave to set thoroughly for a few hours, at least.

Meanwhile, make a dark lilac heavy syrup.  After the syrup boils and the sugar dissolves, turn off heat and add a couple of bunches of lilac flowers.  Let infuse for about 30 minutes, strain, and cool.

There ya go!

Traditional raindrop cake is served with roasted soy bean powder.  In this recipe I used macadamia crumbs.

Try a few tester gels and see if they are ready.  Either poke around the gel with your digits, or turn upside down on your serving surface and coax the gel out of the mold with hot water.  To coax it out, I run steamy hot water on a towel and lay it over the mold.  success?  Well then, try the dome molds for your "cake".

Proceed as pictured by sprinkling nut crumbs on one side and pour syrup on other side. Adorn as desired, maybe with a few more blossoms, you decide.

The other version uses a treat I get from Britain. Parma Violets.  Crunch them up into a smooth powder to dust over the top.

Decorate as desired, then follow the same routine as before with the nuts and syrup.

As you can imagine, the raindrop cakes are light and refreshing. The water melts instantly on the palate and provides an interesting vehicle to the syrup and nuts.  I can imagine the soy bean powder is even more etherial.  Do you want an intermezzo, or light dessert on a hot summer day.  This is it!

I have many ideas for this dessert, and plan to do a few more entries over the summer.  They are that refreshing!


Friday, April 27, 2018

Lavender Cowboy Biscuits

Yeeeehaw! I bet that title conjured up visions of a purple cowboy riding off into the sunset to dunk a biscuit into a glass of milk.  This cookie however is a white chocolate, macadamia and wild blueberry with a bit of oatmeal edition

This recipe conjured up memories of a visit to Sequim, Washington's Lavender festival last summer.  You can get a full rundown of those festivities on my travel blog Sequim Lavender Festival.

Culinary lavender is a matter of some varieties being more suited to cooking.  Pretty much all lavender is usable in cooking.  Some are just better for cooking, with a sweeter flavour.  A widespread variety for cooking is Lavandula angustifolia, particulary Munstead. Cosmetic and ornamental lavender is usually a cross of  Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula latifolia.

Preheat an oven to 325 deg f.

3/4 c. rolled oats, put them thru a blender and make into a "flour".
3/4 c. AP flour
1/2 tsp. bs
1/4 tsp, salt

Combine and set aside.

Cream 1 stick of butter with:
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. packed brown sugar

1 large egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Time for stir ins!
1 c. dry-roasted macadamia nuts, halved
1 c. white chocolate chips
1 cup dried wild blueberries
a few pinches of lavender flowers

Place large scoops on a parchment lined baking sheet, sprinkle with some whole rolled oats.

Bake for about 12 minutes until golden.


Friday, April 6, 2018

Koji Chicken And Roasted Edamame Salad Tray Bake

When talking about umami, one should always spare a thought to koji.  I learned about koji from a British cooking magazine.  My daughter roasted a whole bird with it.  After that there is no turning back.

This article explains koji  pretty well.

"It's not eaten on its own, but grown on partially or fully cooked grains, such as rice and barley. As the spores begin to flourish, enzymes convert the grain into sugar, and then the enzyme-rich grain is added to a second product, such as soybeans. This secondary fermentation process causes a complete transformation in flavor and texture. It's how soybeans become miso, rice becomes sake, soybeans plus wheat become soy sauce. This resulting flavor you know and love? Umami."

Using koji may be a cooking trend, but it will stay as a regular in my kitchen.  If enough time goes by I find myself craving it.

To make this tray bake, line up your chicken thighs and with a clean spoon drop some koji on each thigh without touching the raw chicken with the spoon.  

Then, after all the chicken pieces have a dollop of koji, spread it all over the top of the chicken. 

Place in a preheated 350 f oven  and roast for 45 min.  At the last 20 minutes of cooking time scoot the chicken pieces over  to one side of the tray and add another coating of koji.

 On the other half of the tray add a pkg. of shelled edamame.

In the meantime, make a dressing for a salad.  Place the following ingredients in a mason jar.

1/8 c. rice wine vinegar
a dash of fish sauce
2 tbsp. toasted tahini

Shake well.

Heat the following ingredients through in the microwave for 15 sec. and add to the vinegar mixture.

1 tsp. grated ginger
1 clove crushed garlic
1/8 c. mirin

Shake and let cool a bit. Then add:

1/4 c. neutral tasting oil
a dash of chili oil
a dash of sesame oil

Shake, shake, shake until well incorporated.

To plate: Lay a layer of mixed greens on the plate and top with roasted edamame and place a slice of chicken near.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and spring onions.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cauliflower Scallion Pancakes

If you would like to have a low carb version of Scallion Pancakes, try riced cauliflower!  I'm sure you have heard of cauliflower crust pizza.  Delicious right?  Well, this is the same principle.  

Start by grilling a whole bunch of scallions.  Set aside.

Get some riced cauliflower.  Trader Joe's has some pre-riced cauli, use half a bag.  Use half of a cauliflower head if you are ricing your own.   I will make something with the other half of the bag next time.

The pre-riced is even better if it is popped into a blender and riced a bit more.  Microwave for 4 minutes. Season with salt.

Grease a lined baking tray with a bit of coconut oil.  

Let the microwaved cauli cool.  Meanwhile, chop the scallions, as shown.  Add 2 beaten eggs, mix throughly.  Divide the quantity of the mixture in half, in two rounds on the baking tray.  Using a fork, press into rounds about the size of a normal tortilla, as shown.  You may need to dab the rounds with a towel if they are too moist.

Bake in a preheated 450 deg F oven.  for 15 minutes, or until slightly browned.  Flip the pancakes over.  Bake 15 more minutes until golden brown.

 The scallion pancakes are delicious with a dipping sauce.

1/4 c. Tamari
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
A couple of dashes of Mirin
1 dash of chili oil
a tbsp. of honey
A dash of sesame oil
2 tbsp, grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, grated

Mix in a heat proof jar, then microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir.  Serve, you can reserve some for pancakes the next time.

For a different texture with a nice flavour kick, try sprinkling with ground crunchy mochi.


Sunday, March 11, 2018

A Shortcut To Bostock

Who needs plain old eggy bread (Pain Perdue, French toast) when you can have Bostock?  

I have to give a shout out to Saboteur Bakery for making me want to make Bostock.  Yes, the only thing that can make Bostock better is homemade brioche!

My bostock is apple and pear flavour.  You can make any flavour you would like with either pre-made, or homemade jams and butters.

5 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
Dash of vanilla 
¾ cup  ground almonds
6 thick slices of day-old brioche (Trader Joe's to the rescue, again, they have a very nice sliced brioche available)
¼ cup  sliced almonds
Jar of preserves, fruit butter, or jam
1/2 c. maple syrup
Pearl sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 ºF (180 ºC) and line a baking tray with parchment paper.  In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together by hand. Beat in the egg and extracts and stir in the ground almonds. Set aside.  Lay the slices of toasted bread onto the prepared baking tray.  Brush outer edge with maple syrup.  Dollop the almond paste over each piece and spread.  Make an indentation with your spoon in the middle of the frangipan and then spoon in your jammy filling.  Sprinkle sliced almonds on each piece as shown and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the almond paste is a rich golden brown. Decorate with pearl sugar and serve.

Watch them disappear one by one.

The flowers shown are from the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.  Visit my travel blog to see more!

I'm Ruined! - Skagit Valley Tulip Festival


Saturday, March 3, 2018

I Don't Want To Get Up Early Fresh Bagels

Making dough can be therapeutic, but sometimes getting up early on the weekend is a bit hard.  The mixing, proofing and resting (of the dough), punching down, forming and waiting again means rising out of bed has to be fairly early.  It is also nice to have a freshly baked family brekkie.   The compromise?  Trader Joe's pizza dough!  Yes, that was the mystery picture in the previous blog, Bagels!

Simple enough.  Open package of the dough.  Divide in half.  Then divide the halves in half again.  You can scale them, but I just opened my tired eyes and judged them by look.

You will make 4 large bagels per package, or 6 mini snack size bagels. 

Form your bagels as shown, on a lined baking tray.  In the meantime, boil water with a pinch of sugar added. Also, preheat the oven to 400 f.   After about 20 minutes of rising time, pick up and gently drop your bagels in the boiling water.  Turn each one over and place them back on the baking tray.

This is when you can add toppings.  It is best to do this while the bagel is still somewhat wet from being in the water.  Trader Joe's helps out again, with a mixture that everybody knows.  Other toppings that are popular are cheese, jalapeno, or onion.  Maybe push the boat way out and do a cheese and jalapeno bagel.  The mind boggles.

We really like a Sunday breakfast of a New York style bagel with lox, cream cheese, capers, and slivered red onion.


Friday, February 23, 2018

Easy Bierocks With Help From Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's has some pretty decent products, that is why I don't feel too funny plugging their name.  The ingredient lists are fairly pure and that is why I use them for a few shortcuts sometimes.  This idea cuts out the bread dough making time for Bierocks by using TJ's pizza crust dough.  The assembly for these meat and kraut  pockets is still a bit time consuming and fiddly, but this trick helps quite a bit and is well worth it.  This is the sort of recipe for a busy weekend meal, or make ahead lunches.

I have to give credit for this idea to my son-in-law Chris. It was his idea to use the dough to make Bierocks, or what he called Krautburger.  Filling ingredients may vary...

* 2 pkg.TJ's pizza dough
* 1 jar TJ's sauerkraut, drained, I separate the large pickles and chop them smaller, add back to mix
* 1 onion, chopped in med. dice
* 1 lb. lean hamburger mince
1 egg yolk for egg wash

Sweat the chopped onion and add the mince.  Cook through and make crumbly.  Add kraut and mix evenly, season. Set aside to cool.

Make egg wash with egg yolk and a bit of water. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 deg. F.

Open your packages of pizza dough and divide in half, then each half in half...etc. until you get 8 pieces. You can scale the pieces if you want.  I just eyeball them and redistribute until they are even.

Then, roll into a smooth ball, and flatten a bit, as pictured above.  Let rest a few minutes, up to 5 min.

Follow the pictures below on a well floured working surface:

1. Roll out into an oblong.
2. Pile high with the filling in the centre.
3. Pinch together in the middle.
4. Move along the entire edge, pinching it completely closed.
5. Lay flat and press down slightly.
6. Do pinch pleats along the edge. Press the edge together a little bit.

Place on a parchment lined baking tray.  Leave room for them to grow as picture below.

Egg wash:

Bake for about 20 minutes.

Guess what I'm making next: