Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Saturday Night Cooking w/ 1hundo

Hello everyone! So I guess 1hundo and I have gotten into a little routine of cooking dinner together on Saturday nights when he's off work... Here's a little shot of the finished product from this past weekend! I have to admit, this week, Patrick did most of the cooking, and whipped up some mean burgers. I could barely fit those bad boys in my mouth! Makin' me proud, that boy is.

For the wonderfully written up recipe (yes, he even did that too this week), and beautiful shots of our meal (as always), check out:

I am such a lucky girl!



My First Loaf of Bread

Hello everyone! I've got a nice hefty post for you today...it's all about my big baking extravaganza with bread!

It all started with a little stroll into Chapter's with about $10 in my pocket...

I immediately ascended the escalator up to my favorite section: the bargain cookbooks. Big, bold "$14.99" stickers caught my eye left right and center on gorgeous, thick "country recipes", "moroccan cooking" and "1001 cupcakes" books. Today was not a day for splurging though... I made my self comfortable in the spot of the shelf that was a little more affordable...by sitting cross legged on the surprisingly clean carpet. Usually a sucker for all things flashy, something bizarrely plain caught my eye this day - a little coiled bread recipe book (with barely any photo's even)...for $4.99. Right in my price range. That's right everyone, I actually went for substance! This little book holds more bread recipes than I can count, plain and extravagent, I was ready for a challenge.

I got home thoroughly excited and immediately whipped out the yeast and got started. I knew what I wanted to make as soon as I saw the recipe in the book - challah bread.

You see, ever since my trip to Aunties and Uncles, I've been challah crazy. It's hard to get off my mind every time I settle for a piece of plain old toast...try it, you'll see what I mean.

Challah Bread

2 packets of active dry yeast
1/4 cup of warm water
1 cup lukewarm milk
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp of salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup of softened butter
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg

First of all, dissolve the yeast in the 1/4 cup of warm water, make sure there are no gluey bit of yeast! It all dissolves eventually with a bit of patient stirring.
Stir in the milk, sugar, salt, 3 eggs, butter and 3 cups of flour.
Beat until smooth.

Keep stirring in flour, bit by bit, until the dough is easy to handle.
Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface when it looks like this:

Knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. 
Throw the dough on the counter as hard as you can, fold it over on itself repeatedly, punch it - go crazy on that hunk!
Next, place your smooth and elastic dough in a lightly greased bowl, making sure to cover the entire dough ball in a little grease.

Wrap your bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size. I put my bowl under the hot lights above the stove, it was perfect.

Look at this dough rise! It's very exciting...

The rising process should take about 2 hours.

The dough is ready to go if an indentation remains when touched!

Punch down your risen dough once again and cut it in half, like so:

Do a little more kneading (not too much at all) and form your dough into two slightly flattened circles.
Place these in greased round 9x2 inch layer cake pans, and cover and let rise until doubled again, about 1 hour this time.
(So exciting)

When your dough is looking fluffy and pretty once again, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk one egg and brush it on the top of your loaves, followed by a bit of sprinkled sugar.
For one of my loaves I cut an "X" into it just to see how it would look...next time I'd definitely do this to both loaves! It looks so lovely and rustic when they were baked.

Pop in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown, and voila, beautiful, fresh, delicious smelling, sweet, soft challah!

Here's that pretty "X" i was talking about!

The house smelled so wonderful that I couldn't help myself from cutting into the fresh from the oven bread for a slice to smother in butter.

Let me tell you, this slice was absolute heaven. And I made that bread myself? I can't quite think of anything more satisfying that I've ever made.

So buttery and flakey and eggy...mmm....challah.

So there you have it! My first loaf (loaves) of bread, ever. This was a very successful baking adventure! I cannot wait to try more recipes from my new little book.



Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Hello everyone! So you may be wondering why I am posting about measly old eggs...but you see, this particular dozen was very eggciting

My little brother came home from a sleep over a couple days ago with a bunch of gorgeous, gigantic eggs from his friend's mom! Apparently she works with a woman who has a few too many chickens and gives away free run, organically fed eggs like there's no tomorrow! Thanks Ian!

I got a little carried away with my camera and took pictures of almost every single egg...they were all so differently shaped and beautiful!

And nicely tucked away in an old egg carton...

And speckled too!

Anyways, just wanted to share that with you all! Have a nice Wednesday night!



Potato and Celery Salad with Ricotta

Hello everyone! I made this little dish a little while ago and never got a chance to post it - so here you go! I made this salad as a starter dish for some dinner that I can't remember the rest of...

The inspiration for this puppy came from the salad I had at Pizzeria Libretto in Toronto with Chloaye and Tatomme (it's practically a direct recreation of the dish...from everything I remember of it)! I think I remembered everything pretty well though, as this salad tasted almost identical to the one I had then! So enjoy this simple, fresh potato salad recipe!

Potato and Celery Salad with Ricotta
I won't put any measurements because everything depends on how many you're cooking for and your tastes!

baby red, white or fingerling potatoes
white onion
olive oil
dijon mustard
white wine vinegar
flat leaf parsley
ricotta cheese
salt and pepper

Wash and cut your potatoes into nice bite sized wedges or slivers, and bring to a boil in salted water and cook until the potatoes are "al dente" - the potatoes being nice and cooked yet still firm gives this salad a nice texture.
Meanwhile, cut your onion into small slivers, as well as your celery (I cut it on a big angle because that's how they did it in the restaurant)!
Next, mix a little milk into your ricotta cheese, so it's nice and oozy on the plate. Also add in a bit of olive oil and a big helping of salt and pepper to the cheese, and place this mixture down on your serving plates like so:

When the potatoes are finished cooking, let them cool down, and then add them to a large bowl with the celery and onion.
Now it's time to whip up the dressing! I just did a simple olive oil and white wine vinaigrette and added in the most minute amount of dijon for a little zing, and of course salt and pepper.
Toss your potatoes, celery and onion in your dressing.
Lastly add the chopped parsley to this mix and combine everything.
Place your potatoes and friends in a nice little pile on top of the ricotta, and give the salad a good drizzle of olive oil to finish it off!

I have to say I am quite impressed with how this turned out and will definitely be making it again. It tasted so fresh...and the simplicity of the flavors was a nice change and great way to start a meal! It was very pretty too (I'm a sucker for aesthetically pleasing plates and colours in food)!

Oh yeah, and if you're feeling a little wary of the ricotta in this dish - try it! It might sound bizarre, but it's soo good! Especially since you transform it into a creamy, milky, savory component of the dish with all the salt and pepper and olive oil you pack into it. Mmm.

So there you go! I hope you all enjoy this salad. I thought it was a nice spring salad recipe...but it looks as though spring has disappeared once again (as always), so you can just pretend it's spring in your kitchens with this little dish!



M.T.C.T. (Music To Cook To)

Monday, March 22, 2010

My Favorite Chocolate Cake

Hello everyone! It's time that I share with you all the most incredible chocolate cake recipe that you've ever tasted...

It's no surprise that one of my favorite cake recipes of all time comes from one of my favorite culinary ladies of all time - Ina Garten! This recipe, my friends, is one of those tried and true-keep for your entire life-everyone asks for it everytime you make it recipes. 

This particular cake was made for no real "special" occasion, but it had been long over-due since it was made last. The making of this delicious piece of chocolate heaven actually came about because Patrick needed something to shoot for his photography class, hence the gorgeous pictures we all get to gawk at to go along with this gorgeous recipe. Thanks Patrick! Your pictures are always, always welcome on this blog...

Anyways, I guess I better give you the recipe after all that hype, hey?

Beatty's Chocolate Cake
Recipe from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa at Home

butter for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temp
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter two 8 inch round cake pans.
Line with parchment paper, then butter, and then flour the pans.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an eletric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
In another bowl, combine the butter milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.
With the mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. 
Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Place one layer, flat side up on a flat plate or cake pedestal.
With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting.
Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting
Recipe from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa at Home

6 ounces good semisweet chocolate
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temp
1 extra large egg yolk, at room temp
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup sifted confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. 
Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temp.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. 
Turn the mixer to low speed, gradually add the confectioners sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping the bowl as neccesary, until smooth and creamy. 
Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 tablespoons of the hottest tap water. 
On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. 
Don't whip! 
Spread immediately onto cooled cake.

And there you go! If you're worried about the copious amounts of coffee in this cake - don't worry! You can barely taste it, and the coffee is just in there to enhance the flavor of the chocolate and make the cake really moist. And boy does it ever...

The cake - and the photos - turned out beautiful!

Thanks to the master photographer and wonderful helper.

Patrick has a bunch more photos of the baking extravaganza on his blog - 1hundo. - so definitely check those out! I hope you all enjoy this cake as much as we did (and always do)!



Saturday, March 20, 2010

M.T.C.T. (Music To Cook To)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Rustic Mac n' Cheese

Here's a great recipe for something that people opt for the processed version all too often...mac n' cheese! This tastes a heck of alot different than K.D., in a good way. You must try making up a dish of homemade mac n' cheese if you haven't yet, it is the ultimate comfort food! Hmm...I seem to be having a bit of a theme here this week with the whole comfort thing...

Rustic, Simple Mac n' Cheese

1 8oz package of macaroni

1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups milk
2/3 cup soft buttered crumbs (combine 2/3 cup bread crumbs with 2 tablespoons of soft butter)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook macaroni in salted boiling water until al dente, and drain.
Grease a large casserole dish and place a layer of macaroni on the bottom, sprinkle with cheese, butter, flour and seasonings. Continue to layer until all ingredients are used evenly in the layers. 3 layers is perfect.
Pour milk over everything. Top with buttered bread crumbs.
Bake at 350° for 40 minutes.

I am obsessed with bread crumb topped anything, it just feels so traditional and exotic to me (even though it's really a peasant-food type of thing)! Yum.



Thursday, March 18, 2010

M.T.C.T. (Music To Cook To)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Shepherd's Pie and Paddy Whisky

Hello lovely people! So it's been over a week since I posted last...and I figured there's probably no better day to get back into the rhythm of things than the holy day for Flanagan's itself, St. Patrick's Day! I'll skip all the small talk and get down and dirty and into the recipe for the slightly Irish dinner I cooked up tonight, shepherd's pie. Okay...I know it's an English dish, but it's only an Irish sea away, and that's close enough in my books!

Traditional Shepherd's Pie

5-6 large russet potatoes
1-2 pounds lean ground beef
4 medium sized carrots
1 onion
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter 
 1 tablespoon of canola oil
worcestershire sauce, to taste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup frozen baby peas
3/4 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel and dice the potatoes, and bring them up to a boil in a large pot of water until soft.
Meanwhile, dice up the carrots and onion, and cook them in a large pan with 1/4 cup of the butter and the bit of canola oil until fairly done.
Then add the ground beef to the onions and carrots, and cook until the pinkness is gone from the beef.
Add the worcestershire sauce, thyme, peas and beef stock to the pan and simmer until most of the liquid is gone.
Add in the flour and stir well, and season the mix with salt and pep.
Drain the potatoes when they are finished cooking and mash using the remaining butter.
Pour the beef mixture into a large enough baking dish, and top it off with the mashed potatoes. Use a fork to make little ridges/peaks so the potatoes get extra crispy in the oven.
Pop the dish into the oven until the potatoes are nice and golden and the pie is bubbling!

I have to say - I love Shepherd's Pie! It is the ultimate comfort meal for me... And while I'm saying things, here's the reason I even made dinner tonight!

You see, it was actually Dad's turn to make dinner tonight...but he let his ancestry get ahold of him and got a little carried away with the "Paddy's". That's okay though...we are Flanagans!

With the shepherd's pie we just had a nice, simple green salad in an attempt to off-set all the starch on our plates!

Ahh it feels good to post again...I cannot let this much time go in between posts again!



Monday, March 8, 2010

Om Nom Photoshop Cookies

Hello Friends! This is such a cute video. I had to share! Yes, I am a nerd and I like to bake.



Sunday, March 7, 2010

Picked Up a Couple Things...

Hello lovelies! I hope you all had good weekends! Unfortuntely I didn't really cook much up since the baking on friday, however I bought a couple things from T&T today that I'm super excited about! 

Okay, okay...I know I bought pre-made kimchi which is super lame when I have a food blog (I should be making that shit myself), but I could not remember for the life of me the ingredients needed to whip up a batch as we were perusing the massive shop and opted for the value tub...

But now onto the slightly more exciting purchases: we picked up a nice tub of miso paste (which we haven't had in our fridge for far, far too long), pea shoots (perhaps my most exciting find, I'm used to seeing these little babies sprinkled delicately on top of my beef carpaccio at expensive restaurants...and have always been obsessed with the sweet, fresh flavour of these "shoots"...we bought a MASSIVE bag) and a big ol' bag of bean sprouts, which I'll make some marinated Korean bean sprouts with very soon to go along with all that kimchi! Always love little finds at T&T! Look forward to yummy recipes including all these things soon!



Friday, March 5, 2010


So I've been craving everything and anything sweet lately. I know, I tried to cut back on sugar a little while ago, but I've seriously been feeling deprived - and hadn't baked in forever, so I figured it was time to whip up a batch of cookies.

I used my new favorite recipe, that I got off of Chef at Home, and ventured off the path of your average chocolate chip cookie.

I divided the dough in half and for one half used eggnog flavored chocolate pieces, and for the other half used a mixture of white chocolate bits, dried cranberries, and a good handful of hemp seeds!

The white chocolate/cranberry/hemp seed cookies turned out so beautiful! I love pretty colour combinations in my food...

The cookies turned out perfect again. This is honestly the best no-fail cookie recipe I've ever used! The cookies always turn out with the perfect crunch/chewy ratio, and stay chewy, too!




Best Omelette I've Ever Made

Hello all! I have to share this with you - this is yesterday's breakfast, and the best omelette I've ever made. 

It turned out so perfect it almost looked like a taco, not an omelette!

I know this sounds like a bizarre accomplishment, but you see, usually I'm omelette-ly challenged. Honestly before this puppy, every omelette I've ever attempted to make has burnt, fallen apart, been mushy on the inside, or anything else bad that could happen to an omelette! 

I whipped this little breakky up with fond memories of Aunties and Uncles still lingering in my mind, so I did a little recreation of the roasted vegetable omelette I "oohed" and "mmm'd" over in Toronto! We were very low on groceries yesterday, so mine only consisted of: roasted asparagus, broiled roma tomatoes, roasted garlic, and extra old white cheddar. But it did the trick! Mmm.



Thursday, March 4, 2010

Jerk Chicken n' Red Stripe

Hello loves! Okay, okay...so I've also realized that I've kind of been on a chicken kick lately...but everything chicken I've eaten has just been so good! Last night I (finally) headed out to the Monthly Reggae Night at Redstar with Patrick (who I stole these photo's from...it was so dark in there I'm sure my camera wouldn't have sufficed)! 

I have been dying to try the jerk chicken, rice and peas (the "peas" are actually beans) and cornbread (I have a major weakness for cornbread) for ages (and of course sip on the red stripe specials), but since this event falls on the first wednesday of every month, something school-wise always came up!

But I finally have gone, and am pleased to tell you - the food was everything I dreamed it would be. The chicken was the perfect heat (spicy, but not burn-your-mouth-off spicy), and so moist and juicy, the rice and peas were delicious and homey and the corn bread was perfect. The red stripe's were icy cold and the people there - incredible! I have a feeling this won't be my last journey out to Redstar for these nights...



Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chicken n' Waffles

Hello everyone! I'm sitting here waiting to go out to eat tonight (more on this later), and browsing through a bazillion food blogs (which is making me even hungrier than I already am), and came across this, and just couldn't not share. Gourmet chicken and waffles? Yes please.