Friday, December 10, 2010

What’s Cooking in your Kitchen – Dara at Cookin’ Canuck?

Today I will be going into the kitchen of Dara from the Cookin’ Canuck blog. I discovered Dara’s blog over a year go and love to read it.  Cookin’ Canuck has a vast variety of recipes, everything from Challah Bread to Spicy Stir-Fry Bok Choy with Giner & Soy Sauce and you will love to look at her large amazing picture as you drool over them.

Not only does Dara have an amazing food blog but she is also a consultant for families who wish to set up intensive behavioral programs for their children with autism. Very inspiring! I really enjoy reading her blog and hope you do too.

How long have you been cooking and who was the person who encouraged you to come into the kitchen and learn about food?

I have always been interested in food, particularly eating it.  When I was in my teens, my parents set me the task of making dinner one time per month.  This inspired me to start looking through cookbooks and experimenting with different recipes.  However, they eventually had to ban me from making my go-to meal of baked potatoes with an array of toppings.

My mum is a wonderful, instinctual cook who likes to use ingredients from around the world.  She grew up in Jamaica, and she and my dad lived in Malaysia for the first few years of their marriage.  As a result, I was exposed to a lot of different flavors at a young age.

Why did you start a food blog?

My friends were always telling me how often they ate out at restaurants and, when they did cook, how they found themselves cooking the same dishes over and over again.  So, I decided to put some recipes on a blog to give them some ideas.

While my blog is still packed with easy, weeknight recipes, it has changed somewhat.  I love to play around with different ingredients, flavor combinations, and techniques.  The best part is sharing the resulting dishes with my family and friends.  


Like me, you seemed to have lived all over the world.  I am Swedish but lived in Asia and now in the US.  When I have cravings for some good food it is 99% of the time Asian and I think it is due to my upbringing there.  What about you, how does your international upbringing equate to your food cravings?

I grew up in Vancouver, Canada; lived in New York City for several years; and now live in Salt Lake City with my husband and two boys.  So, I don’t have too much experience with living in varied places.  However, I have been lucky enough to do a fair amount of traveling – Europe, Africa, Australia.

Growing up in Vancouver gave me the opportunity to be exposed to many different cultures.  Vancouver is the home to North America’s third largest Chinatown, plus there is a bustling Indiatown.  Everywhere you turn, you find ethnic markets and restaurants.  From the influence of my mum’s cooking to the availability of international ingredients and cuisine, I became hooked on flavors from different countries and cultures.

From all the places you have lived, how did you end up in Utah?

My husband and I have a consulting business in which we treat children with autism.  We were living in New York City and, as much as we loved it there, we found that we really missed being closer to the west coast and our families.  We had a lot of clients in Utah, so we made the move.

Do you have a signature dish? What is it and how did you come up with it?

Picture from Cookin' Canuck

Porcini & Crimini Mushroom Orzo “Risotto” Recipe

Picture from Cookin' Canuck

Spaghetti with Creamy Mascarpone Sauce & Italian Sausage

Picture from Cookin’ Chanuck

Sweet Potato Noodle Spring Rolls

I can’t say that I have a signature dish, but some of the things I cook regularly are risotto, pasta with a mascarpone cream sauce (my comfort food), and Korean sweet potato noodles, rolled up with chicken and vegetables in spring roll wrappers.  That idea came from a Korean friend of mine.  As much as possible, I try to cook with ingredients that are seasonal.  A couple of years ago, my husband built a raised vegetable bed.  My two boys love helping us plant and harvest vegetable.  It’s a challenge to get to the cherry tomatoes before my 6-year old has pops them all into his mouth.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?

Picture from

I’m not really a gadget person, but there are two things in my kitchen that I simply cannot do without.  Really good, sharp chef knives (I use Wusthof knives) and All-Clad stainless steel pans.  These things alone make cooking so much more enjoyable for me.

With the holidays coming up – is there something special that you make each holiday that is sentimental and you always have to make?  What is it and why?

Picture from Cookin' Canuck

The Family Crockpot Applesauce Recipe

As you can imagine, I do a lot of cooking and baking for my blog.  We have some new favorites, such as Chocolate Nutella Fudge with Sea Salt.  However, there are a few family dishes that we make every year without fail.

The first is my dad’s bread stuffing. On Christmas Eve, many years ago, my mum was curled up in bed, with a bad case of bronchitis. The next night, we were due to host the annual family Christmas feast and neither my dad nor I had ever cooked anything more complicated than sandwiches or scrambled eggs. I walked into the dining room to find my dad surrounded by open cookbooks, diligently searching for a holiday-worthy stuffing recipe. He looked like a college student hunkering down for a long night of cramming for a tough exam. That diligence produced a stuffing that has become a family classic.

From my husband’s side of the family, there are a few “must-have” treats.  We make several batches of my mother-in-law’s wonderful crockpot applesauce every year and serve it alongside the Christmas turkey.  Also, it would not be Christmas without the spritz cookies, in the shape of wreaths and Christmas trees.

What are three things people don’t know about you?

Picture from Flickr hiestand24's Photostream

Uh-oh.  Is this full confession time?  First off, I am someone who likes to take risks on occasion.  I have bungi-jumped two times, one of them being a 350-foot drop from the bridge by Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. The other day I promised my eldest son that I would skydive with him when he is old enough.

The second thing is that I’m an only child.  For me, this means that I have a very close relationship with my parents.  The other thing it means is that I enjoy my alone time.  Even if it means stealing away for ten minutes to read a book, I need that time (several times each day) to recharge my mind.  If I don’t get that time, look out – my crabbiness comes out.

Thirdly, I am a pile-maker…paper piles.  Much to my husband’s annoyance (though he’s really very patient with me), I have piles of paper in various locations of the house.  What’s in them?  Random notes I’ve written myself, cooking magazines, my kids’ school work – you name it, it’s there.  I haven’t told my husband this yet because I don’t want to get his hopes up, but I think my New Year’s resolution will involve dealing with those piles.  I’m sure to find all sorts of important information that I thought I had lost!

What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it prepared?

Picture from Cookin’ Chanuck

This is an easy one.  Mushrooms…in any form…as often as possible.  My favorite way to prepare them is to sauté them until slightly caramelized, then toss them with a little soy sauce.  I can down a whole bowl of mushrooms prepared that way.

What makes you drool when it comes to food?

Picture from Really
Salt.  I am a savory kind of gal.  If as dish has soy sauce, chiles, or herbs, then I’m happy.

Describe your death menu. (Last meal before you die)?

Picture from Flickr Vacationtime Photostream

Going along with the salt and soy sauce theme, I would have to say sushi.  Preferably provided by Tojo’s in Vancouver – melt in your mouth fish, innovative flavors, and beautiful presentations.

What advice would you give to other food bloggers?

First of all, you have to love what you do and what you’re writing about.  If you don’t, you will become bored or frustrated very quickly.

When I first started blogging, I became aware of how many food blogs there are, and the prospect of making my blog stand out in the field was daunting (still is).  As I visited more and more blogs, I started to ask myself what qualities made me come back repeatedly.  The formula, in my opinion, is three-fold – innovative recipes, great photos, and entertaining, honest writing.  While I still have a long way to go in each of these areas, I have concentrated my efforts in making strides forward in each of these areas.

Thanks so much for featuring me on your wonderful blog!

I wanted to thank Dara for letting me in her kitchen! Thank you!  


Monday, December 6, 2010

Perfect Gifts for Him & Her

It is the Holiday Season and we all need a few ideas of what to give to our friends, family and loved ones.  My lists are always related to Food and Kitchen.  Everything on my list(s) are things I truly like and can see myself getting.

Here are my top 10 gifts for Him & Her, something for everyone in every price range.

For Her:

  1. Miss Amy’s Preserves – $7 – Miss Amy’s Preserves are made and packaged exclusively by hand every week. They only use the highest quality fruits and vegetables and pure and natural ingredients. Great gift that one can enjoy every morning for breakfast.
  2. Salted Caramels from Jon Boy – $8.99. – These Seattle made caramels are amazing. They are made with local cream, organic sugar, fleur de sel and organic brown-rice syrup by former local Whole Foods employee Jonathan Sue and business partner Jason Alm, these little boxes of 15 or so caramels pack in a whole lot of happiness. Today they are only selling these locally in Seattle, but you can get them online, and let me tell you, you will not be disappointed.
  3. Italian Glass Bottles – $14 – I love these bottles.  They are useful for any liquid.  Sever your water in it or your summer lemonade. Or even use them for oil, countertop dish soap, an unexpected vase.
  4. Mini Holiday Spatulas – $16 – Everyone loves the spatula.  Why not have a holiday set as well.  Perfect stocking stuffer.
  5. Sexy Apron starting at $18 – I recently did a whole section on Kitchen Fashion.  Here is the best selection for you.
  6. Recipe T Towel – $19 – Screen-printed tea towel with a favorite winter recipe! Adorable!
  7. Black Lacy Tracy – $28 – So hip!  I love this little server tray.  Perfect to serve for your holiday appetizers.
  8. Recycled Windshield White Wine Decanter – $50 – Toast cool design with this sturdy and stunning white wine decanter featuring an open ice chamber that keeps wine cold without diluting it.  And it is recycled!
  9. Nespresso Aeroccino Plus Milk Frother $99 – I love m milk frother and use it every day for perfect frothed milk for my lattes.
  10. KitchenAid Pasta Press Attachment -$179 – You add add it to your KitchenAid stand mixer and make small and large macaroni, bucatini (thick hollow tubes), spaghetti, fusilli (corkscrews) and rigatoni (short ribbed tubes).

For Him:

  1. Scotch Candy Bar$15Single Malt Scotch Ganache & Chewy Caramel finished with Maldon Sea Salt. Enrobed in Dark Chocolate. This candy bar is bold enough for Scotch lovers and smooth enough for all chocolate lovers. The combination of Scotch, chocolate, caramel, and salt is unique and delicious.
  2. Outdoor Wine bottle holder – $15 – Picnics and outdoor parties should be about relaxing. They should not be about “How the heck am I going to get this wine bottle to stay standing up?”
  3. Recycled Record Coasters – $17.50 – Made of labels cut from the center of classic vinyl records, these hi-fi home furnishings will be a hit with any music lover. The discs are sealed so moisture won’t seep through to the surface. Perfect for the man room.
  4. All about Bear subscription – $19.95 – All About Beer magazine, which has been voted the “Best Beer Publication” 7 years in a row, entertains and educates beer lovers. Featuring the history and variety of beer. Including methods & traditions of beer making, and the political & social environment that affects the pursuit of beer pleasure.
  5. YourBars – Starting at $19.99 – Design a custom energy bar perfectly tailored to your personal taste and nutritional needs.
  6. Recycled Windshield Wine Goblet – $35 – Let your cup bubble over with textured goblets handmade from recycled car windows and windshields. Everyone will be asking about these glasses.
  7. Salt & Pepper Grinder – $40 – Y have two when one will do? This sleek salt-and-pepper grinder keeps your spices close and handy in a unique dual-chamber design. Very cool and contemporary.
  8. Cuisinart Electric Rotisserie -$199.95 – By locking in flavor and draining away unwanted fat and grease, this rotisserie provides one of the healthiest – and most delicious – ways to cook poultry, fish, roasts, shish kebabs and more.
  9. Krups High Performance Deep Fryer – $299.95 – Cooking platters of crispy fried chicken, egg rolls, doughnuts and French fries has never been easier, even for beginners, thanks to the incredible convenience and capacity of this innovative deep fryer. Perfect for family meals, it’s simple and safe to use.
  10. SousVide – $299.95 – The SousVide Supreme is the world’s first water oven designed to bring the sous vide culinary technique into both home kitchens and smaller restaurants. The term “sous vide” (pronounced soo–veed) is a French term, meaning under vacuum. Vacuum-sealed food is immersed in a water bath and cooked at a very precise, consistent temperature. Great gift for the chef in the house.

Still do not have enough ideas?  Here is my previous list from Father’s Day Ideas:

Here is my previous list from Mother’s Day Ideas:

Need more?  Here is a link to all my Gift Ideas from pervious posts.

Have other great ideas that are related to Food and Kitchen?  I would love to hear about them in the comment section.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Brioche Cinnabun

Folks, if you have not yet determined what to make for Christmas morning then I have the perfect recipe for you right here.  This recipe is another one out of “Sweet Magic, easy recipes for delectable desserts” by Michel Richard and Peter Kaminsky.  And it is probably the best cinnamon roll I have ever had.  Somehow with the combination of the brioche, pasty cream, and marmalade it was a very delicious concoction.

**** If you haven’t signed up for the cookbook giveaway you can do that until 12/5 right here ****

This cinnabun recipe is from the northeast France where it is called “bolux.”  Also I doubt that the French version is made in the microwave but I love that Michel has us making the pasty cream in the microwave, you don’t see that very often in recipes.  Also supposedly the French version has rum in it but this does not.  I am sure you can add that as well if you wish.

The other half of this is Brioche, which is more of a bread dough than a pastry dough.

Brioche dough is very rich and airy and soft. Because the finished brioche needs airiness, you are supposed to use a high-gluten flour. Which stretches to create little air pockets in the dough as it rises.  However, I did not have this laying around and instead used regular all purpose flour and it might not have turned out as “airy” but it was just as delicious and tasty.  It also states to refrigerate the dough overnight, I only refrigerated for 2 hours.

A few other alterations I had to make was I used orange marmalade versus apricot jam and it was delicious, and another one is that I used golden raisins versus regular raising but that is because I prefer golden raisins.

Brioche Cinnabun

Yields: 8 servings | Prep Time: 45 minutes | Cool Time: 2 hours | Cook Time: 30 minutes

Brioche Dough

Yields: 1 ¼ lbs dough

1 1/2 cups high-gluten bread flour
2 tbsp sugar
½ package (or 1 1/8 tsp) active dry yeast
1 pinch salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp warm water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and at room temperature

Place the flour in the center of the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pour the sugar, yeast, and salt in three different places at the edge where the flour meets the bowl. Break the eggs into a small bowl and place it near the mixer. Pour 1 tbsp of the water directly on top of the yeast and start the mixer on low. Add the eggs to the mixer one at a time (they will “ploop” out of the bowl individually). When all the eggs are in, increase the speed slightly and slowly add the remaining warm water. When the water is incorporated, increase the speed to medium high and continue beating for 2 minutes. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat for 2 minutes longer, until smooth.

Turn off the mixer and drop in all the butter. Start the mixer on low speed to incorporate the butter. Slowly increase the speed to medium, then high, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl after 2 minutes. Continue beating until the dough no longer sticks to the edges of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a bowl large enough to allow it to double in size, cover it loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it overnight. Use it within 3 days.

Filled Pastry

1 cup milk
2 egg yolks
¼ cup packed brown sugar, dark
2 tbsp cornstarch
½ tsp cinnamon
1 set of Brioche Dough (1 ¼ lbs)
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature to texture of mayonnaise
½ cup raisins
½ cup apricot jam


½ cup powdered sugar
About 1 tbsp milk
¼ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Make the Brioche Doug first.

Then make the pastry cream by mixing the milk, egg yolks, brown sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon with a wire whisk in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for a total of 3 minutes, stopping the microwave after 2 minutes and whisking vigorously before cooking for the additional minute. Remove and whisk vigorously again. On a sheet pan lined with Silpat or parchment, spread the hot pastry cream in an even layer. Cut one or two large pieces of plastic wrap, place them directly on top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming, and wrap the entire pan. Refrigerate the pan for at least 30 minutes.

Using all the softened butter, generously coat the inside of an 8-by-2-inch cake pan and place it in the refrigerator. Divide the brioche dough into a 10-ounce piece and a 6-ounce piece, and return the larger piece to the refrigerator. Roll the smaller piece of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle about ¼ inch thick. Place the dough circle inside the buttered pan and press it into the bottom and up along the sides. Refrigerate.

When the pastry cream has cooled completely, transfer it to a large bowl and whisk it vigorously. Spoon one third of the pastry cream into the prepared pastry bottom. Set aside.

Flour the work surface again and roll the large piece of brioche dough into an 8-by-12-inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Spoon the remaining pastry cream onto the rectangle so it covers the entire surface of the dough except for a 1-inch strip at a long edge. Dab a little water on this edge (this will allow you to seal the roll you are about to make. Sprinkle the raisins onto the pastry cream.

Starting from the long edge with pastry cream on it, roll the whole piece as if you were making a jellyroll, using the last inch the dough to create a seal. With a sharp, serrated knife, cut the roll in half, and then continue cutting the pieces in half until you have 8 equal pieces. Place the rolls, cut side up, in the pan on of the pastry cream. Put a roll in the middle and arrange the others around it, leaving an equal amount of space between the rolls so they have room to rise as they bake. Bake for 30 minutes. Let the pastry cool in the pan for 30 minutes.

Warm the apricot jam in the microwave on high for 45 seconds just until it becomes liquid), then remove the pastry from the pan and brush it with this glaze.

In a small bowl, whisk all the icing ingredients together until well combined. Add just enough milk to create an icing the consistency of maple syrup. With a spoon, drizzle the icing over the entire bun. Tear, cut, or otherwise separate the pastry into 8 buns.


Other Similar Recipes:

Hanukkah Recipes
Christmas Recipes
Swedish Cinnamon Buns

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Extremely Chocolaty Chip Cookies and Giveaway

Thanksgiving is past us and now comes my favorite cooking time of the year.  As most of you know I am Swedish and Swedish Christmas food to me is my favorite.  Not only do we make all kinds of cookies and candies in Swedish but we have a Swedish Christmas smörgåsbord as well.  Swedish Christmas smörgåsbord are filled with gravlax, herrings, ham, meatballs, red cabbage and all kinds of good stuff.  This will be first time I will be featuring this with you.  On top of that since I am married to a man that grew up with Jewish traditions I will also be featuring some Hanukkah recipes.

I am really excited for the month of December which will be filled with Hanukkah recipes, Swedish Christmas smörgåsbord recipes and all kinds of baked good and cookies and most of all I am excited to share it with you.

I am so excited that on top of the cooking I will also be featuring 3 cookbooks giveaways in the next three weeks.  Not only will I try the cookbooks with a recipe or two but give you my review as well.

Today I am featuring “Sweet Magic, easy recipes for delectable desserts” by Michel Richard and Peter Kaminsky.

If you are not familiar with Michel Richard, he is a chef-owner of Michel Richard Citronelle and Central Michel Richard in Washington DC.  Before made his first cÔte de boeuf or prepared his first foie gras terrine, he was a pastry chef. In Los Angeles, pastry lovers lined up outside his bakeshop on Wilshire Boulevard, waiting to enjoy the breads and treats they’d heard were the best in town, maybe even better than anything in Paris. Now, in this outstanding collection, the superstar chef returns to his first love, the food that made him famous—desserts.

I got this cookbook and started looking through it.  My first reaction was it has no photo’s. But that is my only negative comment. I am a huge food photo person and wished I had picture to each of these dessert.  But don’t let it stop you from getting this cookbook.  I loved it.

The cookbooks is divided into 3 parts.  First it is “My Sweet Dreams” which I believe features his favorites. Part two is “You can take the Frenchman out of France but…” and Part Three, “Made in the USA.”

It includes the fancy French dessert recipes but with easy ingredients and easy text, but also his own twist on the basic American recipes that are unique.  Definitely a great addition to your cookbook collection.

So many choices but I decided to make the Extremely Chocolaty Chip Cookies.  If I had to name this cookie I would call it the Chocolate and Hazelnut Graham Cracker Cookie.  And that is exactly how it tastes.

I don’t know about you, but I am a HUGE fan of graham cracker crust.  So when I saw the ingredients of this cookie that it included NO FLOUR but only graham cracker crust I knew I had to try this out.

And let me tell you this is a keeper cookie, it is very different but delicious.

Also a few comments on this cookie.  Follow the instructions.  I had more than 6 cookies on some of my trays and they all touched into one big cookie.  The trays I had only 6 cookies were great.  Also let them cool on the rack just before you touch them, they are very delicate.  If you do store them do not store them on top of each other they will stick, I would store them with some parachute paper in between each cookie. I used chocolate chips for these and that was just fine. Last but not least these cookies are much better cold.  Yes I said it, these cookies are much better the day after cold with a glass of milk.   Huge hit!

I needed to include Michel’s intro to this cookie because it shows his thinking:

“This cookie is not meant as an improvement but more as an homage to the chocolate chip cookie. I was also inspired by another American delicacy, the graham cracker-so simple yet so crisp and with such depth of flavor. I was struck by what a nice crust it made for cheesecake, so I started to play with it, chopping up hazelnuts and dark chocolate to go along with it. Because the graham cracker is already baked, there is no opportunity for gluten to develop to hold the cookie together, so it is naturally crumbly, even though the eggs, salt, and sugar serve to bind it somewhat. Take care to pack the dough very tightly as descried below. The texture of these cookies makes me think of sand-not the grittiness of sand, but the way it is full of fine little grains. Try serving them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top-or use two spoons to shape the ice cream into oval “quenelle.””

Extremely Chocolaty Chip Cookies “Chocolate and Hazelnut Graham Cracker Cookie”

Yields: 24 Cookies | Prep Time: 30 minutes | Refrigeration: 4 hours | Bake Time: 20 minutes

1 cup hazelnuts
14.4 oz box graham crackers, crushed (about 4 cups)
8 oz dark or semisweet chocolate
½ cup dark alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa powder
1 ½  cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar, dark
2 large eggs

Note: The cookie dough is rolled into a cylinder shape that can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for several months. Defrost it in the refrigerator before baking.

Preheat the oven to 325F. Place the hazelnuts on a sheet pan and bake them for 15 minutes, shaking them once halfway through. Transfer the nuts to the center of a kitchen towel. Fold the comers of the towel over and let them steam for 1 minute. Holding the towel, vigorously rub the hazelnuts inside to remove the skins. Don’t worry a little bit of skin stays on. Cool the hazelnuts completely.

Place the hazelnuts and graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade and pulse to produce a fine powder. Roughly chop 4 ounces of the chocolate and add it to the food processor bowl, along with the cocoa powder. Process all together for 15 to 20 seconds, or until uniformly combined.

Using a spatula, mix the butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Add the eggs and the contents of the mixer bowl and incorporate well.

Divide the dough into halves. Lightly wet your work surface, cut a length of plastic wrap about 24 inches long, and lay it on the damp counter. Place one of the dough balls in the center of the plastic. Take one edge of the plastic wrap and fold it over the dough. Tuck it under and roll the dough, forming a large sausage shape approximately 3 inches in diameter and 6 inches long in the process. Roll up the entire length of the plastic wrap around the dough two or three times. Next, twist both ends of the plastic very, very tightly. If you loosely pack this dough, it will crumble too easily. Fasten the ends tightly with twine or twist ties. Repeat the above steps with the other piece of dough.

Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or until firm.

To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325 F. Cut the remaining 4 ounces of chocolate into large “chips.” Line two sheet pans with Silpat or parchment. Slice the dough into ½ inch thick disks. Place 6 cookies on each sheet pan and press 6 to 8 chocolate pieces into the top of each. Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes. They will be very delicate-let them sit on the pan for 5 minutes until they are firm and cool enough to remove with a spatula. Carefully transfer the cookies to wire racks and cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

To enter the giveaway you need to do 3 things:

1. Subscribe to Delishhh in an RSS feed or by Email!
2. Become a fan of my Facebook page
3. Leave a comment telling me you did 1 & 2.

For additional entries:
4. Tweet about this giveaway.
5. Leave an additional commnet telling me you tweeted about it.

The giveaway ends on Sunday, 12/5 at 11:59 p.m. PDT. Winner will be selected from

**** UPDATE ****

And the winner is. . . .



Saturday, November 27, 2010

Le Crostata – Cranberry and Caramel Walnut Crostata

It is that time of the month again; here is the next Daring Bakers challenge.

The November 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simone of Briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi Science in the Kitchen and Art of Eating Well.

A crostata is an Italian baked dessert tart, and a form of pie. It is traditionally prepared by folding the edges of the dough over the top of the jam/marmalade filling, creating a more “rough” look, rather than a uniform, circular shape. The jams that are traditionally used as a filling are cherries, peaches, apricots, berries. The crostata can also be filled with pieces of fresh fruit and pastry cream (crema pasticcera), but then it is called torta di frutta. A typical central Italian variety replaces jam with ricotta mixed with sugar, cocoa or pieces of chocolate and anisetta; this is called crostata di ricotta.

The base of a crostata is past frolla, a sweet short crust pastry, made of flour, sugar, butter and eggs. Pasta frolla is versatile and you can put almost anything you want in it.

I was craving cranberries and remembered that caramel sauce I did for the Salted Caramel Brownies, so I decided to make cranberries with caramel sauce.

The tartness of the cranberries with the caramel sauce and the delicious crust was awesome.  I had to give the pie away to my neighbors right away or I would have eaten the whole thing.

Cranberry and Caramel Walnut Crostata

Yields: One 9 inch tart | Prep time: 30 minutes | Cool Time: 2 hours | Cook Time: 30 minute

Pasta Frolla

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cool Time: 2 hours

½ cup minus 1 tbsp of superfine sugar ( you can use caster sugar or make your own by putting some regular granulated sugar in a food processor  and letting it run until it is finely ground)
1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
Pinch of alt
Grated zest of a half a lemon
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

Put sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal. Empty food processor’s bowl onto your work surface.

Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.

For the Filling

Prep Time: 15 minutes

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of kosher salt
1 ½ cup of fresh cranberries
1 cup toasted walnut

Turn the oven to 350F and toast the walnuts for 10 minute.  Remove them from the oven and let them cool.

In a sauté pan, heat the sugar over medium heat, whisking as the sugar begins to melt, this takes about 5-8 minutes. Some of the sugar will harden into clumps, that is ok just keep whisking. Continue to cook the sugar until it reaches a dark amber color. Remove the pan from the heat and very slowly pour in the heavy cream (it will foam up when first added). Continue to whisk until it forms a smooth sauce. (If your sauce is very lumpy and hard something went wrong.) When the bubbling stops, return the pan to a lower heat and stir well with a whisk to dissolve any caramel clumps. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla and salt.  Add the cranberries and walnut and stir to combine.  Set aside.

Assembling the dough and the filling

Heat the oven to 375F.

Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge, unwrap it. To help roll the crostata dough, keep the dough on top of the plastic wrap that you had it wrapped in.  This can help rolling the dough and can help when transferring the dough to your pan.

Lightly dust the top of the dough.  If the dough is very firm, start by pressing the dough with the rolling pin from the middle to each end, moving the rolling pin by a pin’s width each time; turn the dough 180 degrees and repeat; when it softens, start rolling.

Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8” thick.  If you used plastic warp flip dough over the pan, centering it, and delicately press it all around so the corners are well covered.  Peel away the plastic wrap. Roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to remove the excess dough. Press the remaining dough around the border into the sides of the pan making sure the border is an even thinness all the way around.

Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork in several places.

Pour the cranberry, caramel, walnuts mixture into the pie shell and bake the crostata until the cranberries have popped and the mixture is bubbling, and crust is golden, about 30 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Remove the sides of the pan and slide the crostata on to a serving plate. Make sure the crostata is completely cool before slicing and serving.


Other Similar Recipes:

Cheesecake Tartlettes
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Peach Tartlettes
Quiche Tartlettes

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cranberry Orange Molds (Indian Trail Cranberry Orange Mold)

I grew up with Lingonberries which are very similar to Cranberries. In Sweden you have lingonberries with meatballs and some folks make dessert with lingonberries, there is also lingonberry “saft” which is a concentrated juice and you mix it with water.  You can actually find this in Ikea.

Lingonberries are very similar to Cranberries but mostly found in Northern Europe and cranberries are found mostly in North America. Both have the same nutritional value but lingonberries are smaller than cranberries but with a finer flavor.

However, since moving to the US I have moved on to cranberries and I love them.  

During the cranberry season I make all kinds of dessert with them, I love the colors, taste and tartness. But one of my favorite things is Cranberry Orange Mold. My uncle served me this first time for Christmas a few years back and I fell in love with it.  It was so good that I had to get the recipe and then make it at home, which I do ever year now.

I made it at home this week and I can’t stop eating it.  Not only is it delicious with turkey but I can eat it as a dessert.  As I am writing this I have had 3 small molds.

You can make this in a big bowl or small little molds and serve each guest an individual mold, which is just a nice little touch to the table setting.

Cranberry Orange Molds (Indian Trail Cranberry Orange Mold)

2 ½ cup (12 oz) raw cranberries
1 large orange
1 cup granulated sugar
1 package lemon flavored gelatin dessert
1 ½ cup hot or boiling water

Using the cuisineart add the cranberries into the mixer until crushed.  Put the cranberries into a bowl.  Then cut the whole orange into pieces including the rind and put into the cuisine art and mix it, put that into the bowl with the cranberries. Then take the hot water and add the lemon flavored gelatin into it and mix it.  Then mix the gelatin and cranberries and orange inside a bowl.  Once all mixed add the mixture into small bowls and add into the refrigerator over night.

Other Thanksgiving Recipes:

Cranberry and White Chocolate Streusel Bars
Turkey Stuffing
Butternut Sqaush Apple Soup

Butternut Squash Purée with Orange, Ginger, and Honey

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Warm Apple Cider

I love to have this cider during a cold day, and it usually starts around Thanksgiving. My sister in-law introduced me to this and that is when I fell in love with it.

She uses the Ina Garten’s recipe for her cider which I really like but it is a little on the sweet side

So I looked around on the web and found a great little recipe by The Way the Cookie Crumbles that I tried and really enjoyed.

I thought I would share both recipes depending if you like the less sweet and spicier version vs. Ina’s which is less spicy and a little sweeter.

Warm Apple Cider

Yield: 4-6 serving | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 30 minutes

8 cups (½ gallon) pure apple juice or fresh apple cider
2 (2-inch) cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
2 star anise
6 allspice berries
2 strips orange zest, removed with vegetable peeler, each strip about 2 inches long by ½-inch wide, cleaned of any white pith

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Turn off heat, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes. Pour into mugs, straining if desired, and serve.

Warm Apple Cider from Ina Garten

Yield: 12 servings | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 30 minutes

16 cups pure apple juice or fresh apple cider
2 Orange Zests and Juice
8 whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
6 star anise

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Turn off heat, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes. Pour into mugs, straining if desired, and serve.

Other Thanksgiving Recipes:

Cranberry and White Chocolate Streusel Bars
Turkey Stuffing
Butternut Sqaush Apple Soup

Butternut Squash Purée with Orange, Ginger, and Honey

Monday, November 15, 2010

Carrot Pudding Cake

This is one of those recipes I started making because my mother-in-law used to make it and my husband loved it as a kid.  Now I really enjoy having it every thanksgiving dinner as a side dish.  I have no idea why it is called pudding but it is more of moist carrot bread consistency, and makes a great simple side dish.  Plus it holds very well in the refrigerator and you can make it days ahead of time if you have a lot to do on Thanksgiving Day.  I know there is a lot of versions of carrot pudding cakes out there, the reason I like this one is that is it not too sweet and goes really well as a side dish vs. dessert. I have made versions with raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg etc. but I always go back to this recipe at the end, which comes from my mother-in-law. I am curious to know if others make this during the holidays?

Carrot Pudding Cake

Yields: 6-8 | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 45 minutes

1 lbs of grated carrots (about 5 carrots)
1 tsp baking soda which you dissolve in 2 tbsp of hot water
2 tsp of baking powder
¾ cup sugar
¾ cups dark brown sugar
2 cups of flour
¾ cup butter melted
4 eggs whites
¼ tsp salt

Turn on the over to 350 F.

Grate the carrots with a hand grater or in the food processor. Set aside

In a mixer, food processor, or by hand, cream the butter with the sugar. Add in the flour with the baking soda/water, baking powder, and salt. Add carrots . Mix thoroughly.

On the side beat the egg whites and then fold into the mixture.

Bake in a greased bunt pan 350F for about 45 minutes.

Other Thanksgiving Recipes:

Cranberry and White Chocolate Streusel Bars
Turkey Stuffing
Butternut Sqaush Apple Soup

Butternut Squash Purée with Orange, Ginger, and Honey

Friday, November 12, 2010

Turkey Stuffing

Stuffing food has been around for while.  People stuff all kinds of things from birds, to beef, to vegetables.  You can really just use your imagination for stuffing.  Traditionally thanksgiving stuffing has always been bread based but I know folks that use just fruits and nuts as their stuffing.  Some people even stuff their turkey with oysters.

The question is always do we stuff the turkey or do we do the stuffing outside?  I usually do both but I always think the stuffing that you make outside of the turkey always tastes better. I am curious what other people thing.

We also always make double this recipe since stuffing seems to go fast and I love leftovers.

Original Recipe comes from but with several adjustments over the years.  The paper recipe that I had for this is stained crumbled and with a bunch of notes on it.  I am glad I finally got it into the computer.

Turkey Stuffing

Yields: 3-4 cups   | Prep Time: 30 minutes | Cook Time: 60 minutes

¼ cup butter
4 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup fresh chopped mushrooms
1 large onion finely chopped
1 cup celery finely chopped (3 stalks)
8 oz of fried bacon bits
4 cups of croutons
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp thyme
¼ tsp dried marjoram
¼ tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp ground sage
¼ tsp celery seed
1 ¼ cup chicken stock

Make sure you have croutons and chicken stock prepared, if not prepare that first.

Then brown garlic in butter in a pot. Add mushrooms and sauté. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook until they begin to soften about 5 minutes.  Prepare the bacon in the side until medium brown and then add that to the vegetable mixture. Lower heat to medium and add bread cubes and seasonings.

Continue cooking for approximately 5 more minutes stirring continuously. Add hot vegetable stock and mix well. Cover and cook over low heat for at least 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until bread cubes have broken down.  The secret to a good turkey stuffing is in the slow cooking and the frequent stirring.

Place in a covered casserole dish and back for 30 minutes in 350 degree oven.

Other Thanksgiving Recipes:

Cranberry and White Chocolate Streusel Bars
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Frosting
Butternut Sqaush Apple Soup
Butternut Squash Purée with Orange, Ginger, and Honey

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Butternut Squash Purée with Orange, Ginger, and Honey

As a continuation to my Thanksgiving Recipes I am moving on to side dishes.  I love Butternut Squash and when you bake it in the oven it comes out creamy and delicious.  There are so many things you can do with it.  One of my favorite things is this side dish because it is orangey and sweet from the honey.

I usually don’t like to mix sweet with my food but this is an exception and this is as far as sweet as I will go with my side dishes.  I love it and usually this is the side dish I end up eating the most of.

The original recipes comes from Bon Appétit November 2002 Magazine but I have now had this dish for a few years and it is always a big hit.

Butternut Squash Purée with Orange, Ginger, and Honey

Yield:  8 servings | Prep Time:  70 minutes

5 pounds butternut squash, each cut in half lengthwise, seeded (about 2 very large)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp grated orange peel
1 tsp grated lemon peel
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray large baking sheet with nonstick spray. Place squash, cut side down, on prepared sheet. Bake until squash are very tender when pierced with fork, about 50 minutes. Cool slightly. Scoop out pulp from squash and place in processor. Using on/off turns, puree pulp until smooth. Transfer squash puree to bowl.

Combine butter, orange juice concentrate, honey, ginger, and orange peel in heavy small saucepan. Boil until mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 3 minutes. Stir mixture into squash puree. Mix in lemon peel, cinnamon, and allspice. Season generously with salt and pepper.

(Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium-low heat, stirring often, or cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until heated through, about 5 minutes.)

Transfer to bowl and serve.

Other Thanksgiving Recipes:

Cranberry and White Chocolate Streusel Bars
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Frosting
Butternut Sqaush Apple Soup
Sweet Potato Soup


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