Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Rye-Honey Spice Cake - Cookbook Countdown

For the past two months, I've been cooking from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom for Cookbook Countdown, a cooking event that has challenged me to use some of my long-ignored cookbooks. 
I've made at least one recipe featuring an ingredient from each of the twelve families. The Grass Family, the source of grains and cereals, was the focus of this final recipe, Rye-Honey Cake with Five-Spice Powder and Dates.
A take on the classic French pain d'epices or spice cake, traditionally made with all rye flour and relying only on honey for sweetness, this one included some all-purpose flour for a moister crumb, a big spoonful of 5-spice powder in place of a long list of spices and dates for extra sweetness. Its warm spicy aroma filled the house as it baked and its flavour lived up to its heavenly fragrance. Typical of this type of cake, its flavour and its texture were even better the next day. Delicious with coffee or a cup of strong tea.

I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Apple Tarte Flambée - Tuesdays with Dorie

A dessert pizza - Dorie says it's okay if you think a tarte flambée is a pizza - with a cream cheese-yogurt "sauce" and apple topping was the second recipe from Baking Chez Moi chosen by Tuesdays with Dorie for this month.
This was very easy to make with the wait to allow the yeast in the dough to do its thing the most taxing part, and it was surprisingly good with its sweet-tart fruit (I could have been more generous with this), tangy cream base and crisp crust. It was fun and tasty and I'll definitely be making it again.

Visit here to see what everyone else made.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Maple Bran Madeleines with Chocolate-Espresso Fondue - IHCC Hooroo Curtis!

It's been a real pleasure cooking with Curtis Stone, IHCC's latest featured chef these past six months, and family has appreciated it too with all of the tasty food that's come out of my kitchen. 
One of the things that characterized so many of his recipes was the little extra or switch up he included for interest and flavour. These non-traditional Maple Bran Madeleines are an example of that, with wheat bran added to what should be a delicate sponge cake. Remarkably, they were still moist, light and airy and the aroma while they baked took me back to visits to sugar shacks, here and in Quebec, where they cook down the tree sap to make that glorious maple syrup.
With the robust flavours of maple and nutty wheat I thought they were best suited to a good cup of coffee. To make them more dessert-worthy - because I always say farewell to an IHCC chef with dessert - I adapted this fondue recipe (recipe on page 10) replacing some of the Kahlúa with espresso to create a luscious chocolate-espresso dipping sauce for the little cakes.

Visit here to see how the others said goodbye to Curtis.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Saffron Cauliflower Pasta - Cookbook Countdown

I'm cooking from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison this month, a cookbook based on some of the plant families within the plant kingdom. The author describes the Cabbage Family, one that includes vegetables ranging from peppery leafy greens and radishes to milder tasting kale and broccoli with some nutrient powerhouses among them, as "sometimes difficult".
Cauliflower is one of its milder tasting members. The author suggests boosting its somewhat "bland" flavour with stronger ingredients; its cousin mustard would be a good choice for doing this but the flavours of caramelized onion, pungent garlic, earthy saffron, fiery red pepper flakes and salty feta cheese accomplish the same in this pasta dish.
No one would describe cauliflower as "bland" after a taste of this delicious dish. The recipe for Cauliflower with Saffron, Pepper Flakes, Plenty of Parsley, and Pasta can be found here.

I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Braised Fennel Wedges with Saffron and Tomato - Cookbook Countdown

Fennel cooked in fennel stock with fennel seeds.....I had concerns that this dish from Vegetable Literacy*, the book I've been cooking from this month, might be fennel overload but it wasn't, at all. The licorice flavour mellowed considerably with cooking and the saffron, thyme and tomato combined with it to create a delicious blend of flavours.
I served this in two ways suggested by the author Deborah Madison, as a side with grilled fish and with steamed black rice for a vegetarian main. Next time, I'll go a step further and make "Fennel al Forno", a baked gratin topped with bubbly, gooey cheese!

*The book is organized according to plant families within the plant kingdom; fennel, along with familiar ingredients like carrots, celery, parsnips, parsley root (which I once bought by mistake thinking they were parsnips!), coriander, parsley, dill, chervil, cumin, anise and asafetida are just a few that belong to the carrot family.

I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Taipei Coconut Buns

When I saw the Bread Baking Babes'(BBB) selection for this month, Coconut Rolls, it struck a chord with me though I knew I'd neither made nor eaten one before. But then I realized that I not only owned the book that was the source of the recipe but I'd flagged it to make years ago! It was time to give it a try.
It's my first time participating as a Bread Baking Buddy in this group of talented bread bakers who are known (notorious?) for switching things up in recipes; Kitchen of the Month Lien's recipe for these sweet buns is an adaptation of the original. I decided to make the rolls as the recipe appears in the book which meant using cake and all-purpose flours and making a sponge to start. There seems to be an error in my edition (Random House Canada) in regards to the amount of AP flour, calling for only 2/3 to 3/4 cup (80-90g) which produced a thin, pancake-like batter. I suspect it should be 1-2/3 to 1-3/4 cups (200-210g) as this amount worked perfectly in creating a soft, supple dough. I followed Lien's lead in reducing the salt in the dough, reducing the sugar in the filling and doubling the filling.

These were a bit of a challenge for me to shape. I realized after forming the first few that rolling the strips of dough a little wider made it easier to accommodate the increased amount of filling but I still had trouble sealing the ends. Remarkably, they stayed closed during proofing and baking.
These were so good! They were pillowy soft with a chewy coconut-caramel filling, perfect with a cup of tea. I'm glad I was finally motivated to make them.  

For the BBB version of the recipe and excellent photos of the shaping of the rolls, visit host Lien's blog here. The original recipe for Taipei Coconut Buns is from Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Devilled Eggs with Tarragon - Cookbook Countdown

I've been cooking from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison this month for Cookbook Countdown, an event that's encouraged me to cook from some of my rarely used cookbooks. This book is not strictly about vegetables but all edible members of a dozen selected plant families. The sunflower family is the source of a broad range of foodstuffs, some familiar to me - artichokes, lettuces, safflower, sunflower, chamomile, tarragon - and some less so - salsify, cardoon, burdock....
Egg Salad with Tarragon, Parsley and Chives was the recipe I chose from this chapter but I decided to make devilled eggs for fun instead, using the same ingredients, mixing them with the yolks and piping them into the cooked egg white shells.
They were sooo good. The herbs gave them a fresh flavour and mayonnaise ensured a creamy filling. They were quite different from my Mum's recipe of mustard and mayonnaise with a dusting of paprika, the one I usually make and the family favourite, but delicious nevertheless.
I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Edouard's Chocolate Chip Cookies - Tuesdays with Dorie

It's back to school with chocolate chip cookies from the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers working our way through Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi. But not just any chocolate chip cookies, ones that included hazelnuts, my favourite nut.
The recipe actually called for nut flour but without toasting it first, it didn't add much flavour to the cookie. They were still decent tasting chocolate chip cookies but I think they would have benefited from a little less time in my oven - they had crunchy edges and cakey centres initially but were as hard as biscotti the next day though I stored them as directed. I think I'll stick with my favourites, Kim Boyce's whole wheat chocolate chip from Good to the Grain or, to get my hazelnut fix, Joanne Chang's milk chocolate hazelnut from Flour.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Quinoa Cakes with Beet Greens and Beet Salad - Cookbook Countdown

Quinoa and beets, both members of a plant family of edible weeds, leaves and seeds (Goosefoot and Amaranth) came together perfectly in this delicious vegetarian dish from Deborah Madison's book Vegetable Literacy, a cookbook arranged according to edible plant families.
The cakes were crisp little patties of cooked quinoa, wilted beet greens and feta cheese flavoured with onions and cilantro. They were accompanied by a salad of steamed beets dressed with a squeeze of lemon juice.

I love beets but I've yet to convince anyone else in the family to eat them, though they may give them another try if plant breeders are successful in eliminating their dirt flavour, but they were quite happy to devour the patties (and the greens from two bunches of beets that went into them) with a dollop of Greek yogurt. And I am in beet heaven with a stash of cooked beets in the freezer just for me!
I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Yeasted Buckwheat Waffles - Cookbook Countdown

I'm continuing to cook from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison* this month for Cookbook Countdown (read more about it here) but I've decided to leave the land of vegetables with this recipe for one of my family's favourite breakfast foods: waffles.

The batter was made with buckwheat and spelt flours, milk, eggs, oil and just a little honey for a touch of sweetness. It also included yeast which made the waffles light and airy but meant you had to allow time for the batter to proof. Overnight fermentation in the fridge worked best for me so I could get straight to cooking them first thing in the morning.
They had incredible flavour and crisped up nicely in the iron but they softened very quickly. This was also true of some frozen ones that were heated in the toaster later. The same batter can be used to make pancakes so I think I'll try that next time. Regardless, they were a delicious way to start the day topped with roasted peaches and maple syrup.

* This book is organized according to families in the plant kingdom; buckwheat is part of the Knotweed family which counts sorrel and rhubarb among its members.
I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Potato Zucchini Enchiladas with Habanero Salsa - IHCC Finishing Touches

It's sometimes the little things that transform a dish from this:
to this:
"Finishing Touches" is the theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week and our featured chef Curtis Stone is a master of them. I don't think I've made a single recipe of his that didn't call for a little something special but I think our chef outdid himself with these enchiladas, corn tortillas stuffed with sautéed potatoes, zucchini, onions and garlic, and roasted medium-hot chiles.

They were pretty tasty on their own but these brought them to life:
fresh coriander, feta cheese, spring onions, Greek yogurt (or you can use sour cream), and best of all, a fiery roasted tomato-habanero salsa, that can be as mild or as hot as you like depending on the number of chiles you add.