Archive | April, 2017

Beginners Baking Kit 

30 Apr

For all you new bakers out there who aren’t sure where to begin, this is a guide to get you going. This “kit” is geared towards someone who doesn’t bake regularly or who is just getting into baking.

Bowls

You will of course need bowls. Multiple ones of varying sizes. You will need at least one large bowl to hold your batter, a couple of small ones to hold small portions of ingredients and a couple medium sized ones.

Measuring spoons and cups

These are a must. They are useful for measuring liquids and powders and fortunately are very easy to come by. Most supermarkets, hardware stores even craft stores sell them and they can be extremely affordable.

Scale

A digital scale is a personal must have recommendation. I did not own one of these when I first got into baking, I actually ended up buying it at the suggestion of my nutritionist but it came in handy for so much more than measuring servings of almonds. Scales can give exact weights which is necessary for successful baking. Make sure your scale can convert between units (oz/kg).

Mixers

Hand Mixer

This is where you can end up spending some big bucks, but you don’t have to. For someone who is now beginning or maybe doesn’t plan to do a lot of Baking I recommend a hand mixer over a stand mixer.  Stand mixers are fabulous but they are a big commitment. They typically cost at least a couple hundred dollars, they require care and maintenance and they take up lots of space. So start small. Hand mixers are typically affordable,  portable and easy to store and they get most baking projects done with ease.

Whisk

A whisk is a must and you probably already own one. If you can’t afford a hand mixer a whisk will work nut obviously requires more effort. Moreover, whisks are useful for more specific techniques where you may not need ingredients beat together. Whisks are affordable and easily found in supermarkets and hardware stores.

Utensils

There are numerous baking utensils you can find yourself buying. But for the basics you really only need three things. A spatula, a spoon and a palette knife or offset spatula.
Spatula

A spatula is useful for scraping down batter, getting batter out of bowls and for folding ingredients.

Spoon

The need for a spoon is self-explanatory and most people have spoons laying around.

Off set spatula 

This nifty little tool comes in handy for decorating. If you are Icing a cake it helps to smooth the icing over the top and around the sides.

Baking ware

One cannot bake without baking ware. Lol. The type of Bakeware you chose to buy depends on what you plan to bake. For example,  if you plan to make bread and loaves you need a loaf pan and if you are a muffin lover you’ll need a pan for that too. I have a few basic suggestions.

Circular tin

For your basic cake making you cannot go wrong with a circular tin. My one pro tip is get a spring form tin, one you can release and remove the bottom out of for easier removal.

Square pan

This is useful for baking brownies, blondies and other bar type baked goods.

Cupcake tin 

Cupcakes and muffins are also pretty basic baking territory and for that,  you’ll need a cupcake tin.

Baking sheet

This is great for baking cookies and other flat baked goods.

These are the basics for getting started in baking. Let me know if you have any other basic baking essentials that I left off and have an awesome day.

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Easter Brunch

14 Apr

I love Easter. It always makes me think of new beginnings, a fresh start and of course, Cadbury creme eggs (lots of them).

Today I bring an Easter Brunch inspiration. I think brunch is a fantastic meal to have at Easter time. Everyone has time to go to church or sleep in late and then afterwards a no hassle relaxed brunch. For brunch there are usually lots of options; pastries, omlettes, cakes, cheese boards…the works. I chose three recipes I think would add a great touch to a brunch menu. They are all simple and affordable. I also laid out an Easter/Spring tablescape and added a delicious cocktail.

ON THE MENU

Deviled eggs

Stuffed mushrooms

Fruit Fluff

Peach “mimosa”



Deviled Eggs

This is a brunch staple and of course well suited for Easter. Deviled eggs turn simple boiled eggs into a creamy flavourful treat.

WHAT YOU NEED 

Makes 6

Eggs -The number of eggs you use will give double that number of deviled eggs as they are served as halves. I used 3 eggs so I got 6(only 4 shown)

1 tbsp Mustard– I used a spicy mustard

1 tbsp Mayonnaise– This is optional but it does add a certain creaminess

Spices– I used salt, black pepper and paprika, just a pinch of each.

Deviled eggs ingredients 




WHAT TO DO 

1) Hard boil eggs, let cool and remove shells.

2) Cut eggs in half and gently remove yolks. Set whites aside.

3) Add condiments and spices and mix until a smooth paste forms.




4) Place paste into piping bag (you can use a zip lock and snip the end) and pipe into egg whites.



Deviled eggs 


Stuffed mushrooms 

I remember the first time I had this version of stuffed mushrooms. My mother brought them home from a local Italian bistro and my life was changed. Something about soft, tart cream cheese against the crunch of a fresh mushroom is a perfect match.

WHAT YOU NEED 

Mushrooms– I used 8 medium sized ones (they were unfortunately a bit bruised)

Cream cheese– The amount you use depends on the number and size of the mushrooms but about 2 tbsp fill 8 medium sized mushrooms.

Spices– I used lemon pepper and some oregano.

Mushrooms and cream cheese 


WHAT TO DO 

1) Add spices to softened cream cheese and mix.

2) Place in a piping bag and pipe into mushrooms. 

Mushrooms and cream cheese mixture



3 )Top with oregano 


Stuffed mushrooms 



Fruit Fluff 

This is my take on an Ambrosia salad. I substituted cool whip with Greek yogurt for a healthier twist and a more “brunchy” feel.

WHAT YOU NEED 

I used arbitrary amounts, a little bit of each. The amounts you use depends on how much you plan to make.

Greek yogurt- The one I used is plain combined with honey so it’s already sweet. A great alternative is vanilla but really any flavour you prefer can be used.

Fruit– I used  mixture of frozen fruit (cherries, strawberries, lingonberries) and fresh  (strawberries and blueberries)

Mini marshmallows

Fruit Fluff mixture

WHAT TO DO

Mix altogether and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Peach “Mimosas”

What’s the best part about brunch? The fact that you get to splash your juice with wine. Lol. Now mimosas traditionally consist of wine and citrus juice hence my use of air quotes. Technically this is a peach cocktail but when doing brunch, we call it a mimosa.

WHAT YOU NEED 

White wine

Peach juice

Canned peaches

Peach mimosa ingredients 




WHAT TO DO 

1) Place 1 or 2 peach slices in the bottom of the glass and muddle it a bit (mash it with a spoon if you don’t have a muddler, which I don’t)

2 ) Fill glass halfway with wine.

3) Top off with peach juice and add a straw.

Peach “mimosas”



Tablescape

An important part of entertaining is creating ambience. For this I chose a simple, clean fresh look in keeping with the idea of a relaxed yet sophisticated setting.

This tablescape employed some crafty skills but all were simple. My colour scheme was pink, white and gold.

Table runner

I made a table runner of sorts by overlapping lots of doilies along the Centre of the table. I added a touch of gold by swiping gold paint over them in a random fashion.

Table runner from doilies




Flowers

I went with pink and white carnations. Carnations are often a very affordable option from the florist costing only a few dollars. I used about 4 bunches in all keeping  the look minimal.

I swished some of the same gold paint onto the flower petals to keep with the theme and placed them in jelly jars.

Flowers




Centre piece 

My “Centre piece” began with ambition. In fact, the failure of this centrepiece led to the final colour scheme, so maybe it was for the best.

For the centerpiece of an Easter Brunch I had to incorporate eggs somehow. I decided to dye some eggs. People have different methods of doing this. The best way I’ve found is using regular food and egg dye and a bit of vinegar to allow for better uptake of colour.

I removed the contents of the eggs by making a small hole at one end and simply allowing it to run out, gently shaking if you need to. Don’t waste your egg ! I put mine in the refrigerator and made omelet the next day.

I mixed the dye, vinegar and water in a mug. I find you get a more even coating if you use a mug.

As it happened the only colour that worked out was the pink (the yellow one broke and the purple came out streaky)

Once my one surviving egg was dry I splattered it with the by now ubiquitous gold paint. I displayed it in a mini jelly jar on a bed of Easter egg shaped jelly beans.

Centre piece




I placed the flowers and Centre piece on the table runner and laid the table with simple white plates and bowls.

The tablescape and settings

Table with food

Deviled eggs 


Stuffed mushrooms



Fruit Fluff



Peach mimosa


Easy breezy Easter Brunch. Hopefully some of these ideas will inspire you if you plan on doing brunch for Easter or any other occasion. Have a happy Easter and an awesome day!

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Giant Cookie

5 Apr

Giant cookie




When I was a child  (maybe 5 or so) I had a conversation with my mother one evening after school. I told her “I want a giant cookie.” I remember this conversation distinctly. For some reason, I thought this cookie would be made in a frying pan, not baked, and I could envision it being fried as I spoke to her. She told me “Okay.”

 My unsuspecting self didn’t realize at the time she said okay more to get me to stop nagging her than anything else and not because she planned to make this cookie. By the time I was about 11 I had figured out the truth. Many years into my adulthood and still, no giant cookie. There was an attempt circa 2011 by my sister, a valiant effort I must admit. However, the giant cookie of my dreams contains chocolate. So here is my attempt to finally satisfy that long burning desire for a giant cookie.

To make this cookie you need a good recipe. My recipe is adapted from one on Joy of Baking (my baking queen) and it makes a soft cookie. I figured this would be easier for slicing as giant cookies are meant to be shared.


WHAT YOU NEED 

Cookie

1) 1/2 cup (113g) butter at room temperature 

2) 1/3 cup (75g) of granulated sugar

3) 1/3 cup (75g)  brown sugar– I used coconut sugar

4) 1 egg

5) 1 tsp vanilla extract 

6) 1 1/4 cup (150g) of flour 

7) 1/2 tbsp baking soda

8) Chocolate morsels -use as much or as little as you want

9) Nuts – use as much or little as you want

10) Baking dish -I used a shallow 9” glass dish

11) Cocoa powder – I used 1 heaping tbsp

Cookie ingredients 


Chocolate wafers and nuts

Icing

1) Cream cheese

2) Icing sugar

3) Chocolate sprinkles


Cream cheese and Icing sugar


Cocoa and sprinkles


Baking dish




WHAT TO DO 

Cookies

1) Heat oven to 375 F (190 C)

2) Grease or line dish – To allow for easy removal

3) Beat butter until creamy then add both white and brown sugar and beat until fluffy.

Creamed butter and sugars 

Butter and sugar mixture


4) Add egg and vanilla extract and mix

5) Separately,  mix flour and baking soda and add to mixture and mix well.

6) Separate the mixtures into two equal parts.

Separated cookie mixture 

7) Add cocoa powder and chocolate morsels to one half mixing well.

Mixed in Cocoa


Added chocolate 

8) To the other half of mixture,  add crushed nuts

Added nuts




9) Place mixture in refrigerator for about 30 minutes just to firm up slightly

10) Add mixture in alternating dollops into baking dish.

Mixture placed in dish




11) Bake for 15 minutes or until baked through 

Baked cookie




Icing

Mix some softened cream cheese with Icing sugar until desired texture and sweetness. I started with approximately 2 tbsp of cream cheese and 1/2 cup of Icing sugar.

Icing




Top cooled cookie with icing and add sprinkles

Cookie with icing




Slice and serve

Sliced cookie




Finally,  a chocolate giant cookie. Lol. This was awesome. I think this is a great alternative for a birthday cake (for that weird friend who doesn’t like cake) or a dessert with a difference if you’re entertaining.

The chocolate and nuts expectedly go beautifully together. The cookie is soft so it’s easy to slice and eat but not as fluffy as a cake. The cream cheese Icing gave a nice contrast to the decedent almost bitter dark chocolate and the saltiness of the nuts.

(Mummy, I’m still waiting…)

Give this one a try and have an awesome day.

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