Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Island Fruit Muffins - Cookbook Countdown

Thanks to talented cooks and food bloggers Emily and Joyce, creators of Cookbook Countdown, I've been motivated to dust off some older cookbooks and actually cook from them. This past month I've been baking muffins from 500 Best Muffin Recipes by Esther Brody and after tackling 6 recipes, the family is still not tired of them - a very good sign, I think.

My final recipe was Island Fruit Muffins from the "Special Occasion Muffins" chapter. To me, this wasn't a special occasion muffin but it was one of the best bran muffins I've ever had! With all the fruit and coconut going on, you barely noticed the bran except for the nutty flavour it brought to the muffin. I replaced the raisins with fresh mango but I think my next rendition will be with pineapple. Try them and enjoy!
 Island Fruit Muffins
makes 20 regular
adapted from 500 Best Muffin Recipes by Esther Brody

*Ingredients:
145g wheat bran
80g all-purpose flour
80g whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder 
2-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
2 eggs
170g honey
100g vegetable oil
300g buttermilk
260g mashed bananas (about 3 medium)
125g shredded sweetened coconut
200g diced mango (I used 2 Ataulfo)

Method: 
Preheat oven to 190C/375F. Prepare the muffin tins by greasing them or lining them with paper muffin cups.

Into a large bowl, measure the bran, flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, honey, vegetable oil, buttermilk, mashed bananas, and coconut together.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Gently fold in the diced mango. Do not over mix.  

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins filling them 3/4 full. Bake 20-25 minutes on the middle rack of the oven until the centre springs back when pressed lightly with a finger and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool 5 minutes in the pan before removing.

* I converted the book's American volume measurements to gram weights using King Arthur Flour's ingredient weight chart.

Though the book has a few issues - recipe yield isn't provided and the conversion of American volume measurements to metric volume measurements is often inaccurate and inconsistent (I ignored them) - I really enjoyed baking from it this month and I'll be looking to it often when the mood to bake something quick and easy strikes.

I'll be cooking lots of vegetables with next month's book choice, making use of the abundance of local produce at the farmers' markets .

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

Rice Pudding, Strawberries and Spiced Hibiscus Syrup - Tuesdays with Dorie

I'd neither tasted nor made rice pudding before this nor had I ever been tempted to based on its appearance alone so I was pleasantly surprised by this dessert from Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi, one of this month's choices for Tuesdays with Dorie.
It was very creamy with good vanilla flavour and the Arborio rice grains retained their integrity, something I wasn't expecting. Some family loved it as is but I preferred it with the tangy hibiscus syrup (made with hibiscus flowers, half the sugar and the juice of a whole lemon) and fresh strawberries with their pops of fruity flavour, good foils for the richness of the pudding.

Visit here to see what everyone else made. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Red Snapper with Harissa & Rose and Saffron Rice with Pistachios & Mixed Herbs - IHCC Potluck

One thing I enjoy about being a participant in I Heart Cooking Clubs - and there are many - is being inspired by other members' posts to try a new recipe. Such is the case with my potluck dish from Yotam Ottolenghi, Pan-Fried Sea Bream with Harissa & Rose from the book Jerusalem. Diane of Café Mom Cooks featured it on her blog in May as a dish her husband made her for Mother's Day. 
The recipe wasn't particularly difficult but the results were spectacular. It started with pan-frying harissa-marinated fish which was then set aside while the sauce cooked. Now this second component was a little more elaborate with ingredients incorporated at various stages adding depth and complexity to it. To describe the final flavour as sweet and tangy with a bit of heat doesn't begin to do it justice. It went beautifully with the fish without overwhelming it and the floral flavour from the rose water and dried rose petals was subtle.
The author suggests plain rice as a side but I had some dill and parsley to use up so turned to a recipe from the same book that I've made several times, Saffron Rice with Barberries, Pistachios and Mixed Herbs. I omitted the barberries this time so they wouldn't compete with the fish dish and without them the rice was a flavourful but neutral side.
I will definitely make this again. Family enjoyed it and it would be an excellent dish for entertaining since so much of the work can be done in advance.

Visit IHCC to see what everyone has made this week...I may be inspired to make it soon myself!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Peanut Butter Oat Muffins - Cookbook Countdown

I've been baking this month from 500 Best Muffin Recipes by Esther Brody, a book I haven't used much until now that is brimming with wonderful muffin recipes. From the chapter "Specially for Kids", which could just as easily have been called "Specially for my husband" it's so filled with some of his favourite flavours, I made Peanut Butter Oat Muffins.
  
These were excellent! They were moist, had good peanut butter flavour and despite the whole wheat flour and oats had quite a light, fine crumb. I reduced the honey in the recipe and added a little extra yogurt to make up for the lost moisture. The ingredients reflect the change.
Peanut Butter Oat Muffins
makes 20 regular
adapted from 500 Best Muffin Recipes by Esther Brody

*Ingredients:
180g whole wheat flour
150g rolled oats
4 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3 eggs
150g honey
65g vegetable oil
135g smooth peanut butter
280g plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla 
85g chocolate chips

Method: 
Preheat oven to 190C/375F. Prepare the muffin tins by greasing them or lining them with paper muffin cups.

Into a large bowl, measure the flour, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, honey, vegetable oil, peanut butter, yogurt, and vanilla together.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. Do not over mix.  

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins filling them close to the top. Bake 15-20 minutes on the middle rack of the oven until the centre springs back when pressed lightly with a finger and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool 5 minutes in the pan before removing.

* I converted the book's American volume measurements to gram weights using King Arthur Flour's ingredient weight chart.
I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray

Monday, June 20, 2016

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sandwiches - IHCC Fresh & Fruity

There's nothing fresher right now than locally grown strawberries and though I like them best as is, pairing them with something creamy and vanilla can also be very nice. Curtis Stone, our featured chef at I Heart Cooking Clubs, had the perfect recipe for them: Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sandwiches. The recipe wasn't difficult but it did involve a little bit of (almost) jam-making, some baking, and time to allow for chilling and freezing.
The first step was to create the strawberry ripple ice cream filling and while this involved cooking the strawberries down with some sugar and lemon juice, Curtis has you fold the mixture into store-bought vanilla ice cream, a major time saver. 

Next came the cookies which reminded me of snickerdoodles without the cinnamon. They had crackly tops, crisp edges and chewy centres. I added a little vanilla because I think vanilla makes all baked goods taste better.

The final step was filling them. Either I was too generous or I made a mistake measuring the vanilla ice cream, but I had only enough for 5 sandwiches
These were sooo good. I loved the high ratio of fruit to ice cream which created more of a strata than a ripple and the berry flavour was very bright and fresh. Not all cookies work well frozen, but these ones did, taking only a few minutes to soften out of the freezer. These were a delicious summer treat.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Maple Pecan Muffins - Cookbook Countdown

I'm in muffin baking mode this month in an attempt to finally use some of my neglected cookbooks. 500 Best Muffin Recipes by Esther Brody, the book I'm focusing on, has a huge selection of recipes and this week I've chosen Maple Pecan Muffins from the "Low-Fat Muffins" chapter.

Most of the recipes in this book follow the standard muffin mixing technique of mixing dry and wet ingredients separately then combining them to create the batter. This recipe has the additional step of whipping egg whites and folding them in at the end. These muffins ended up being more like mini chiffon cakes, moist and super light and airy, and of course with the maple-pecan pairing had great flavour

But I must admit that I made a big mistake when I made them. The recipe called for 2 egg yolks and 4 egg whites. When I was cleaning up, I couldn't find the 2 extra yolks I'd set aside. I realized I'd added them to the batter! Have you ever done that? The muffins seemed to turn out well regardless so I've written the recipe as I made them.
Maple Pecan Muffins
makes 12
adapted from 500 Best Muffin Recipes by Esther Brody

*Ingredients:
120g all-purpose flour
60g whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
4 eggs at room temperature, separated
120g low-fat milk
80g maple syrup
30g vegetable oil
1/4 tsp pure maple extract (optional)
40g sugar
60g chopped toasted pecans  

Method: 
Preheat oven to 190C/375F. Grease a regular 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper muffin cups.

Into a large bowl, measure the flours, baking powder, and salt and stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, milk, maple syrup, vegetable oil, and maple extract, if using, until well combined and creamy.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar and continue beating until the whites are glossy and stiff peaks form.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour the milk mixture into the well and stir until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Gently fold in the pecans and egg whites.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin filling them close to the top. Bake 15-20 minutes on the middle rack of the oven until the centre springs back when pressed lightly with a finger and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. 

Cool 5 minutes in the pan before removing.

* I converted the book's American volume measurements to gram weights using King Arthur Flour's ingredient weight chart.
I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray

Monday, June 13, 2016

Rose Fraisier - Tuesdays with Dorie

It's strawberries and flowers galore this month at Tuesdays with Dorie with both recipes chosen from Baking Chez Moi featuring these ingredients in one form or another. This week I'm focusing on the Rose Fraisier, a classic French cake that celebrates one of my favourite fruits. 

In reading the headnotes, I was very happy about the changes Dorie made to the recipe: her no-fail yogurt cake instead of a sometimes finicky genoise; fluffy vanilla diplomat cream in place of heavier (buttery) buttercream; a topping of cream and fruit instead of almond paste.
She also introduced rose flavour into the cake with syrup and extract. I had no trouble finding the syrup but the extract proved to be a bit more elusive (and exorbitantly priced once I did locate it). I used raspberry flavouring that I had from another project with the rose syrup instead.

The cake was moist and had a lovely floral flavour, the cream filling was light and airy and then of course there were all of those beautiful sweet, juicy berries.....so delicious.

Visit here to see what the other members made.

Ginger Beef Satay with Charred Asian Vegetables - IHCC Surf &/or Turf

I went the "turf" route this week for I Heart Cooking Clubs with a delicious grilled beef and vegetable recipe from featured chef Curtis Stone. This dish was not just family friendly in the taste department but budget-friendly as well, designed for less expensive cuts of beef. 
Tenderized both mechanically with a bit of muscle and the pointy side of a meat mallet, and chemically with tenderizing ingredients like ginger in the marinade, the sirloin tip steak I used became soft and succulent and was incredibly flavourful.
The vegetables were the perfect side. I don't have a grill tray suitable for small things so I just left the Shanghai bok choy in pieces large enough they wouldn't fall through the grill and added some spring onions to the barbecue. Soy sauce was their only seasoning but I think a dressing that included rice vinegar and sesame oil would have been quite good with them as well.

With the meat prepped and marinated overnight, this was an easy weeknight dinner that everyone enjoyed.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Lemon Raspberry Muffins - Cookbook Countdown

This month for Cookbook Countdown, I'm baking up a storm with recipes from my rarely used book 500 Best Muffin Recipes by Esther Brody. I love lemony baked goods so I had to try the Lemon Yogurt Cranberry Muffins from the "Wholesome Healthy Muffins" chapter. 

I made a few adjustments to the recipe. Since I had neither lemon flavoured yogurt nor lemon extract, I used 1% fat plain yogurt and lemon oil in their place. I also used fresh raspberries instead of frozen cranberries for a more summery feel and reduced the amount of honey in the recipe. 

These were moist and lemony, with a fine cake-like crumb. I loved the tartness from the raspberries but I think I would add a few more next time. They would also be nice with a lemony glaze made from the juice of the lemon whisked with a few spoons of confectioners' sugar.
Lemon Raspberry Muffins
makes 16 regular or 32 mini
adapted from 500 Best Muffin Recipes by Esther Brody

*Ingredients:
180g all-purpose flour
90g whole wheat flour
2-1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
4 eggs
150g honey
65g vegetable oil
1/4 tsp lemon oil or 1-1/2 tsp lemon extract
240g plain yogurt
grated zest of 1 lemon
150g raspberries (I used 125g but would have liked more)

Method: 
Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Prepare the muffin tins by greasing them or lining them with paper muffin cups.

Into a large bowl, measure the flours, baking powder, and salt and stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, honey, vegetable oil, lemon oil, yogurt, and lemon zest together.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Gently fold in the raspberries. Do not over mix.  

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins filling them close to the top. Bake 15-20 minutes for regular muffins, 7-10 minutes for minis, on the middle rack of the oven until the centre springs back when pressed lightly with a finger and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool 5 minutes in the pan before removing.

* I converted the book's American volume measurements to gram weights using King Arthur Flour's ingredient weight chart.
I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray

Monday, June 6, 2016

Banana Cake with Caramel Sauce - IHCC Featuring Donna Hay

When I get a new kitchen toy I have to play with it immediately. A square bundt pan was my newest acquisition so a cake was in the offing. Its flavour was dictated by the bunch of bananas ripening faster than we could eat them and Donna Hay, I Heart Cooking Clubs' featured chef for June, had the perfect recipe.
The butter cake batter was made in the typical fashion with the usual baking pantry ingredients and enriched with sour cream and bananas, of course.
The cake was dense but moist, rich in banana flavour and imbued with cinnamon. It was very good on its own but the easy caramel sauce of cooked cream and brown sugar added a special touch, something this Australian cook is known for.

If you'd like to see more Donna Hay recipes, visit IHCC.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Chocolate Chipit Snackin' Muffins - Cookbook Countdown

I'm baking muffins this month for Cookbook Countdown using a book I've owned for some time but rarely used, 500 Best Muffin Recipes by Esther Brody. From the "Classic Muffins" chapter comes this moist, chocolate-y muffin that was a big hit with family. An egg-free recipe, it can easily be made vegan with the right chocolate chips.
Chocolate Chipit Snackin' Muffins
makes 12
adapted from 500 Best Muffin Recipes by Esther Brody

*Ingredients:
180g all-purpose flour
200g granulated sugar
15g unsweetened cocoa, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
50g vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp white vinegar
250g warm water
85g chocolate chips

Method: 
Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Grease a regular 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper muffin cups.

Into a large bowl, measure the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vanilla, vinegar, and water together.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir until the two are almost combined with some pockets of dry mixture still visible. Add the chocolate chips and fold a few times until the dry ingredients are just incorporated and the chips are evenly distributed. Do not over mix.  

Pour the batter (it's quite liquid) into the prepared muffin tin filling close to the top. Bake 15-20 minutes on the middle rack of the oven until the centre springs back when pressed lightly with a finger and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool 5 minutes in the pan before removing.

* I converted the book's American volume measurements to gram weights using King Arthur Flour's ingredient weight chart, but the original recipe can be found here. 
I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Wheat Germ Banana Muffins - Cookbook Countdown

This month, I've chosen a long-ignored baking book to explore for Cookbook Countdown, hosted by food bloggers Emily and Joyce. Muffins were the first things I learned to bake from scratch and I always appreciated that I could get a fix for my sweet tooth with something that was relatively healthy and easy. 500 Best Muffin Recipes seemed like a great resource for those lower sugar and fat treats I enjoyed at a time when muffins were becoming more cake and dessert-like. But I was overwhelmed by the selection so it was set aside until now.
Every chapter has its own index so I'll rely on those to help me navigate the book; my plan is to try one recipe from each but we'll see how that goes. I have a feeling I can bake more muffins in a month than we can possibly eat ...time to make space in the freezer!

From the "Fruit & Vegetable Muffin" chapter, I made Wheat Germ Banana Muffins. These not only included wheat germ, but some bran as well. They were moist and had great banana flavour. I omitted the raisins and increased the walnuts in the recipe for a nice, toasty crunch. This recipe's a keeper.
Wheat Germ Banana Muffins
makes 12
adapted from 500 Best Muffin Recipes 

*Ingredients:
150g all-purpose flour
25g wheat bran
30g wheat germ
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
260g (weight without peel) ripe bananas (approx 3 medium)
115g neutral vegetable oil
100g brown sugar
1 egg
120g buttermilk
60g chopped walnuts, toasted

Method: 
Preheat oven to 190C/375F. Grease a regular 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper muffin cups.

Into a large bowl, measure the flour, wheat bran, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, mash the bananas well. Whisk in the oil, brown sugar, egg, and buttermilk. 

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir until the two are almost combined with some pockets of dry mixture still visible. Add the nuts and fold a few times until the dry ingredients are just incorporated and the nuts are evenly distributed. Do not over mix. The batter should still be lumpy.

Spoon batter into the prepared muffin tin filling it to the top. Bake 20-25 minutes on the middle rack of the oven until tops are golden and the centre springs back when pressed lightly with a finger.

Cool 5 minutes in the pan before removing.

* I converted the book's American volume measurements to gram weights using King Arthur Flour's ingredient weight chart.


I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray. I'm looking forward to seeing the other books chosen this month.