November 26, 2009

coccodrillo

coccodrillo bread

My hubby rarely had baked before a year or two ago. One day, he asked me why I like to bake. I told him I found it relaxing and that it also reminds me of my days working as a lab rat at my lab bench. Very similar work.

He then proceeded to bake something later that week and since then, he hasn't looked back. I now share my kitchen with him. Though I'm the main cook/baker in our house, he does spend much more time in there than he used too. I guess he experienced the same feeling.

He stumbled upon this recipe and wanted to try it out. Bread that is named after a crocodile, because it's crust resembles crocodile skin. Plus, it's made with beer. And what man doesn't like beer?

coccodrillo slices

So, no quarms of sharing my kitchen if he continues to make delicious looking and tasting bread. However, we're still working out the details on his post cleaning-up skills. :)

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coccodrillo
makes 2 loaves

sponge
2.5 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 cup dark beer
3 cups water
1 cup whole wheat flour
2.5 cups all purpose flour

dough
3 cups all pupose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp salt

Whisk together all the sponge ingredients. Cover bowl and let stand overnight.

Take the sponge and put it into a stand mixer. Add all the dough ingredients and knead on low for about 8 minutes. Add more all purpose flour, if needed.

Remove the dough and roll into a ball and tranfer to a oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for 2 hours.

Punch down dough. Remove from bowl and transfer to a flour dusted surface and form into a large loaf. Place the dough onto a prepared pan. Cover and let it rise for an hour.

Cut the dough into half and turn the cut edges up onto the prepared pan. Dust with all purpose flour. Bake breads for about 40 minutes at 400F, until browned. Turn off the oven and let the breads sit for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven onto wire racks and let cool.

Recipe adapted from: Coccodrillo, Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking

November 17, 2009

zesty barbecue sauce

zesty bbq sauce pork spare ribs

The weather here has been very good (for November!). My children even ran around yesterday without jackets on.

So that means the trusty barbecue can still be in use. Prolonging the grill season is always a good thing. But just because it's called "barbecue" sauce, don't you worry, it works just fine in the oven too ;) tee hee. Works for any type of meat: chicken, ribs, fish, etc.

This is an easy to make sauce and so very tasty. Both my kids liked it and wanted more, which is a pretty big deal in this house.

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zesty barbecue sauce
makes 2 cups of sauce
(enough for 8 servings of ribs)

1 cup beef stock
1 cup sweet red chili sauce
1/2 cup molasses
2 tbsp wine vinegar
4 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
2/3 cup water

Stir together all the ingredients in a saucepan to a boil. Simmer and reduce for about 20 minutes.

Brush the sauce over ribs during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Serve.

Recipe adapted from: Canadian Living, Let's Barbeque! magazine

November 16, 2009

margherita pizza

margherita pizza

I quite like pizza.

I would probably make it more often but I can't usually stop with just one slice. Or two. Sometimes I get a wee peckish right before bed (of course!) and must have "just a little slice". Then it's cold pizza for breakfast the next day. I look for any little occasion or tummy grumble to justify having another slice.

Quite simply, I find pizza intoxicating.

But, let me set the record straight.

Only if it's good pizza. And as always, what I find good may not be your good.

This pizza dough recipe is my go-to recipe. And I think the reason is that the crust is so great. The pizza crust is chewy but with a nice crispy crust. And I think the reason is due to the bread flour.

Bread flour has more protein in it which allows more gas to be trapped during baking process. This in turn, gives a nice bread rise and a hearty feel to the crust.

Bread flour, you say? Don't have any? Don't want to buy any? I'm with you. I don't need a pantry cluttered with big pails of flours. So what I do instead is buy gluten. By adding gluten to your all purpose white flour, you essentially, make your own bread flour.

The question is how much do you add?

Many sources on the web say to add one teaspoon of gluten to each cup of all purpose flour. I did that once and my bread rose sooooo much, that it was a super thick deep dish. It was however, still a great texture... chewy inside with a nice crispy crust.

I prefer a thinner crust so I use half as much gluten. I would advise that you experiment at home for yourself to find your preference.

You can find gluten in most stores. I buy it in the bulk aisle at my local Save-0n.

This margherita pizza was good but I think I still prefer my basic tomato sauce and toppings.

So there you have it, my secret to good pizza dough. I have people ask me sometimes when they try my pizza. Now you too can have a delicious crust. Though I'm not telling you my "secret" tomato sauce recipe. I'm taking that one to the grave. :)

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margherita pizza
makes 2 pizzas

2 pkg active dry yeast
2-1/4 cup warm water
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup oil
5 cups bread flour, plus extra if needed (you may substitute 1/2 tsp or up to 1 tsp for EACH cup of all purpose flour instead of bread flour).
1 tbsp salt

parmeson cheese
fresh tomatoes, diced
fresh basil leaves
grated mozzarella cheese
olive oil

In a mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand until foamy (about 5 minutes).

Add sugar, oil, flour and salt and knead with dough hook until soft and smooth, about 8-10 minutes. Add up to one cup of flour while kneading so cough will pull away from sides.

Form dough into ball and tranfer to lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubles, about 1.5-2 hours.

Punch down and take dough out onto lightly oiled surface and divide into two. Let rest for 10 minutes. Dust with all purpose flour and roll out to fit pan. Pizza pan should be oiled and dusted with cornmeal.

Spread parmeson cheese, diced fresh tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and mozzarella. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake until brown 10-15 mintues at 500F. Serve hot.

Crust adapted from: Pizza margherita, Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking

November 9, 2009

hangem' high chili

hangem' high chili

Seeing Sharon's post on the 2009 chili cook off reminded me the recipe I picked up after a chili cook off many, many years ago. I can't remember when but probably a good 7-8 years ago. Geez, where has the time gone?!?

I adapted the recipe below for our needs, using lean ground beef, less sweet peppers and fresh tomatoes when my child's preschool had a chili dinner fundraiser for some 80 folks. A friend and I also catered a 100+ people event later on with the same recipe. It was well received both times.

When I make this recipe at home, I adapt it down to make a large potful. We eat it over two days and the rest goes into the freezer to eat for another time. It's never the same chili every time I make it because I tend to throw in a little of this or a little more of that. I'm not one to follow recipes very well unless it's baking (and sometimes never really then!) I'm a rebel without a cause... I'm like the James Dean of cooking.

Watch out, I got a whisk in my hand and I'm not afraid to use it!

Yeah, right... only in my dreams :) hahaha.

Thus, I'll leave you the bulk recipe to adapt for yourself too.

Enjoy!
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hangem' high chili
"serves 200 hungry cowboys or 150 hungry Albertans".

35 lbs inside round alberta beef
10 jumbo onions
3 celery stalks
30 fresh tomatoes, diced 1/2"
2 - 100 oz cans crushed tomatoes
3 - 100 oz. cans kidney beans
12 garlic cloves
10 oz. tequila
12 tbsp chili powder
8 oz. fresh oregano, chopped
8 oz. fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp cumin
4 red peppers
4 green peppers
2 tbsp crushed peppers

Trim fat & dice beef into 1/4 " pieces. Dice celery,onions, red & green peppers. Heat skillet, add oil and saute onions, cleery and garlic. Halfway through add peppers and saute. Add tequila and remaining ingredients. Cook on low heat for approximately 45 mintues. Serve.

Recipe: Hangem' High Chili: courtesy of Coast Edmonton Plaza Hotel.

November 5, 2009

coconut krispies

coconut krispies

I have to admit, I didn't make these beauties, I just photographed them. A friend who lives in my neighborhood made them and she just so happens to read my blog.

*** Hi!!! ***

And you lucky readers, I just so happen to get the recipe!

My hubby and I love these cookies. My friend sent over a get-well batch many months ago after my hubby had surgery and we were instantly salivating with each bite. Crispy and crunchy on the outside with a chewy center. It reminds me of delicous shortbread.

Last week, she brought me another batch (don't I know nice people!) but this time around, we paced ourselves. It actually lasted through the weekend but that's because I hid them.

As I type this up, my hubby just asked "Are there any more of those cookies left?"

I can't remember how many are left so my food hoarding instincts kick in. "If there is only one left, you have to share."

Listening to him rummage in the pantry "There's more than one. suh-weet".

Suh-weet indeed.

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coconut krispies

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup margarine, room temperature
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 egg
3.5 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup rice krispies
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup nuts of your choice. chopped (optional)

Cream together margarine, oil, applesauce and both sugars until fluffy. Add egg and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Add it to the above mixture and mix until well blended.

Fold in rice krispies, coconut flakes and nuts.

Drop by spoonfuls on a prepared cookie sheet. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes and cookies start getting golden.

November 3, 2009

almond lemon ricotta cheesecake, gluten-free

low carb almond lemon ricotta cheesecake with mango raspberry sauce

Remember when I complained about misplacing my ricotta cheesecake recipe. Well, I found it, the little scribbled note that I put aside for later. Glad I only temporarily lost it :)

I made this cheesecake for my hubby's birthday (which was MONTHS ago). He's a low carb freak and so when it's his birthday, I try to adapt recipes to make it low carb or low sugar. This recipe is gluten free and sugar free (ONLY if you use splenda or some other sweetener as a substitute)

The cake was tasty though I, personally, would prefer the carb-y version. I mean, really, it's an apples and oranges comparison. However, if you can't have wheat or if you are carb-conscious, then it's a great option.

One thing I would change for next time is add some sweetener to the crust. I found the crust could have used a touch of sweetness.

As for the sauce, I used mango and raspberries. Yellow and red makes ... orange! Funny, didn't think of this beforehand at all but is sure does look like carrot sauce. haha. I don't have a recipe for it, i just mixed equal parts of fruit, mixed in some water to thin it out a bit, sugar (or splenda) to sweeten to taste and tsp of lemon juice. Remember to sieve it before serving.

...

almond lemon ricotta cheesecake

2.5 cups ground almonds
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
4 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup granulated splenda (or sugar)
4 eggs
2 tsp almond flour
2/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Zest of 2 lemon peels
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract

Crust:
Mix together 2.5 cups of ground almonds and 1/2 cup melted butter.

Press 1 cup of the mixture into a 9 inch springform pan. Press evenly with some coming up the sides. Place in the fridge to cool while preparing filling. Set aside the leftover crumbs to be used later for topping.

Filling:
Blend together the ricotta cheese and splenda (or sugar) until fluffy. Add eggs and mix well. Add the remaining ingredients until well blended.

Take out the springform pan and add filling. Sprinkle the leftover crumbs set aside from earlier over the top of the filling.

Bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes. The cheesecake center should move very slightly when the pan is shaken. Place on a rack and cool completely.


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