Monthly Archives: May 2012

Muffin Monday: Coffee Hazelnut Muffins


Written & photographed by
Stay-At-Home-Chef

Thank you to Kate from Food Babbles, who came up with the best name for the muffin madness I concocted last week (Tropical Chai Oatmeal Muffins). A much better name indeed!

© 2012 CookThatBook

Coming up with a name for this week’s muffin was much easier: coffee and hazelnuts. Doesn’t get much simpler (or tastier!) than this folks. The original recipe comes once again from Women’s Weekly, and is a cinch to prepare. The batter uses a variety of flours, including self-rising, all-purpose and hazelnut meal. (If you can’t find hazelnut meal/flour in the store, simply grind your own to a fine texture in a food processor).

© 2012 CookThatBook

After going online and reading the majority of complaints with this recipe was the lack of coffee flavour, I decided to ramp things up by using 1 ½ Tbsp of espresso powder rather than instant coffee. I also added ¼ cup of cooled dark coffee into the batter. No way the coffee flavour would be getting lost in these muffins!

© 2012 CookThatBook

Brown sugar, eggs and buttermilk are also added to the batter along with the flours and 2 Tbsp of Nutella (possibly my favourite thing on earth). Once the muffins are cooled, the recipe calls for a hazelnut frosting as a topper.

© 2012 CookThatBook

Check it out – these muffins rose like a hot damn!

© 2012 CookThatBook

I loved the depth of the coffee flavour, although I found the taste of hazelnut got lost. Next time I would double the amount of Nutella, or possibly include a dollop in the middle to become deliciously melty. As for the hazelnut frosting, I decided to skip this part. In our household muffins have become a regular part of our lives, but my husband is always complaining that we should call our challenge Cupcake Mondays due to the sweet decadence of some of the muffins. Of course whenever he complains his mouth is usually full!

Knowing that the hazelnut frosting would be playing right into his argument, I served these muffins bare. At least until we discovered how good they tasted cut in half and smeared with Nutella!

© 2012 CookThatBook

What do you think? Should muffins be served with or sans frosting? Where do you draw the line between muffin and cupcake?

© 2012 CookThatBook

For a copy of the original recipe for this week’s Muffin Monday, please click here

Don’t forget to visit Baker Street’s site and be sure to check out what the other food bloggers have baked up this week!

Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street. A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.

Monthly Miettes: Buttermilk Panna Cotta


Written & photographed by
Stay-At-Home-Chef

After making the labour intensive (but oh so satisfying!) Tomboy Cake and challenging (but to die for good!) Lime Meringue Tarts, I was glad that Aimée White of Food: Je t’Aimée assigned a simple Panna Cotta for this month. The recipe itself contains a mere five ingredients (plus the garnish of your choice) and comes together quickly and easily. Honestly, the hardest part is letting it sit overnight before you dive in and enjoy! I have to admit to continuously peaking in the fridge throughout the day to see if they had already set, but it did indeed take overnight for them to become firm.

© 2012 CookThatBook

Panna Cotta is a classic Italian dessert, basically an eggless custard which translated means “cooked cream”. It literally takes five minutes to make, and the light, fresh texture and taste makes it the perfect dessert to serve in the summer. As far as entertaining goes, I have a feeling this might become my new favourite! You can make it ahead up to three days, storing in the refrigerator well covered and garnished just before serving.

© 2012 CookThatBook

For this recipe test I used 1 tsp of Vanilla Paste, an easy way of incorporating the intense flavour from a bean but in liquid format. Topped with fresh strawberries, the tang from the buttermilk made beautiful music together with the heavy cream and left your palate feeling refreshed. It truly is an effortless dessert. My only qualm was that the texture turned out much too runny for my liking (think gelatin soup). So I whipped up another batch but this time added more gelatin. The consistency was better, but still too runny. The trick with panna cotta is adding the correct amount of gelatin: too much and it turns out elastic, too little and it’s runny. However after two tries I decided not to experiment further with increasing gelatin until I hit the sweet spot. I expect a recipe to do the work for me.

© 2012 CookThatBook

I’m definitely going to be making Panna Cotta again, but not this recipe. Perhaps next time I’ll add some white chocolate into the mix and top with stewed fresh cherries. Deb over at East of Eden Cooking is daydreaming about infusing the cream with mint and topping with fresh raspberries and shaved chocolate. The possibilities are endless…

© 2012 CookThatBook

Do you have a favourite summer dessert? What flavours are you most excited to incorporate into your baking now that summer is fast approaching?

For more information on Monthly Miettes or if you’re interested in participating, please visit Food: Je t’Aimée 


Food & Wine Magazine: May Cover Recipe


Written & photographed by
Stay-At-Home-Chef

Thai Chicken with Hot-Sour-Salty-Sweet Sauce

RATING: 2.5 out of 5 (what the?!)

INITIAL THOUGHTS: A tasty looking continuation of last month’s Asian flavours, perfect for the commencement of grill season.

THE TEST: Mr. Spock and I were both excited to try Food & Wine Magazine’s May cover recipe, as we’ve both been bit by the BBQ bug. What can I say? The sun finally decided to make a lasting appearance in Vancouver, and we wanted to capitalize.

© 2012 CookThatBook

Preparing the chicken was easy. The first step is to let the meat marinate in a blended mixture of cilantro, fish sauce and pepper for 20 minutes. The chicken is then grilled and finished in the oven, and served with a dipping sauce that consists of tamarind concentrate, fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, Thai chile, sugar, water, vegetable oil and cilantro.

© 2012 CookThatBook

On paper everything looked good and I thought we were all set for success, but one whiff of the fish sauce and a storm cloud of doubt gathered in our kitchen. Yikes. This is supposed to taste good?!


© 2012 CookThatBook

THE RESULTS: Disastrous. That is the only way I can describe the results of this recipe test. We ended up marinating the chicken outside on the patio as the smell was making us nauseous. I kid you not! Crossing our fingers that the smell would improve somehow after grilling, we forged ahead but unfortunately the chicken was just plain inedible. I’m sorry, but the taste of rotting fish is just not appetizing to my palate.

What on earth went wrong?

I’m wondering if my results were unfavourable due to the type of fish sauce I used? Does anyone know if there is a particular brand of fish sauce that is preferable to others? I ended up using a traditional Thai fish sauce. Was that where I went wrong? I’m hoping for some advice, as I’d really like to know what I could have done to garner better tasting results.

© 2012 CookThatBook

Ironically enough, the kids LOVED the chicken. Seriously?! Wow. Hubby and I are still in shock they actually ate this dish. Go figure.

Okay, enough of me whining. Let’s head over to Food, Je t’Aimée and see what Aimée thought about this month’s recipe (the girl is in the middle of moving chaos and still found time to make this month’s cover…go Aimée go!) And don’t forget to read Kendall Harris of Wine2Three’s wine pairing. To compliment the spice in this dish, she opted for a delightfully economic and great tasting Zin.

If you would like to join us next month, the more the merrier. So pick-up a copy of the latest issue of Food & Wine Magazine and be sure to send us your thoughts, comments and photos. We’d love to hear from you.

Cover Recipe:
Thai Chicken with Hot-Sour-Salty-Sweet Sauce 

© 2012 CookThatBook

As part of my culinary New Year’s resolutions, I have committed to creating each month’s cover recipe from Food & Wine Magazine.

NOTE: If any of you would like to follow along with me and join in on the fun, I’d love to compare notes! So pick-up a copy of the latest issue of Food & Wine and get cooking. Be sure to send your comments and photos to info@cookthatbook.com.

The mission of Food & Wine Magazine is to find the most exciting places, new experiences, emerging trends and sensations in the culinary and wine industries. From travel and entertaining to luxury and design, this magazine brings an energetic and stylish take on food and wine. For more information on Food & Wine Magazine, please visit www.foodandwine.com

 

Wine Pairing by Kendall Harris of Wine2Three

Whenever I taste a Zinfandel wine my initial response is; “I need to drink more Zinfandel!” Such was the case with the memorably named Zinfatuation, which is a perfect pairing with this month’s Food & Wine Magazine’s cover recipe.

Zinfandel was one of the first grapes planted in California by Italian immigrants in the mid 1800’s, and today the oldest vines in California are Zinfandel vines. Zin represents only 10 percent of the grapes grown in California, yet you often hear it referred to as California’s classic grape variety. In fact, there was recently a push to make it California’s “official” grape but as you can imagine, big growers of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay had that motion overturned!

You may have heard of White Zinfandel, which is a semi-sweet rose wine made from red Zinfandel grapes. It’s usually inexpensive and a huge seller for mega-producers like Sutter Home. Interestingly enough, White Zinfandel outsells red Zinfandel wine by 6 to 1!

Zin (the red wine Zin) is often described as being the perfect BBQ wine, pairing beautifully with smoky grilled food. When I think Zin I think “big fruit” – rich, ripe fruit flavours of raspberry and blackberry with hints of black pepper. Delicious! That’s definitely the case with Zinfatuation, a wine with a gorgeous nose, lots of fruit and a lovely, lingering finish. A wine reminiscent of California sunshine, best consumed al fresco with flavorful grilled food. Enjoy!

Kendall Harris shares her adventures in the wine world as Wine2three on Twitter & Facebook. She is WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) Advanced Certified & is currently developing a weekly wine series on ShawTV, where she is a full time reporter. Join her on Facebook – click LIKE at www.facebook.com/wine2three for regular fun wine info!


Muffin Monday: Tropical Chai Oatmeal Muffins


Written & photographed by
Stay-At-Home-Chef

I know I know I know…the name of these muffins is quite a mouthful. But as you’ll soon see there is a lot going on in terms of ingredients and so I’m opening my muffins up to suggestions! The best proposed name (please leave your ideas in the comments section of this post) will be the new winning name for this week’s muffin!

The original recipe tasked to us from Baker Street, was for Oatmeal Muffins with Raisins, Dates & Walnuts from Simply Recipes. Since I am not a fan of raisins, Mr. Spock does not enjoy dates in baking and the kids’ least favourite nut on the planet happens to be walnuts, that left me with oatmeal.

© 2012 CookThatBook

Wanting to really dial up the oatmeal flavour of these muffins but also jazz things up in terms of ingredients, I skipped the aforementioned undesirables and replaced them with one cup of Nature’s Path Organic Love Crunch Aloha Blend granola. The combination of pineapple and white chocolate chunks with this cereal is amazing, and I thought it would add a nice element to the muffins. I also added 1 tsp of chai spice as I thought the flavour profile of these spices would compliment the tropical vibe I had going on this week.

© 2012 CookThatBook

It’s been awhile since we tackled what one could call a ‘traditional’ muffin, and after my adaptions I’m not sure if my muffins still fall into this category but damn they were good.

© 2012 CookThatBook

Next time I would add additional chunks of white chocolate to the batter, as the pieces in the cereal got lost during the baking process. Fresh pineapple combined with the dried in the granola would also punch up the flavour while keeping the muffins moist.

Okay now it’s your turn: what on earth should I call these muffins?!

© 2012 CookThatBook

For a copy of my recipe for this week’s Muffin Monday, please click here

Don’t forget to visit Baker Street’s site and be sure to check out what the other food bloggers have baked up this week!

Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street. A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.

 

COOKBOOK REVIEW Vegetarian Cooking: a commonsense guide

By Bay Books (imprint of Murdoch Books Pty Limited)

Vegetarian Cooking: a commonsense guide is available for purchase through our online store or at local bookstores. For more information on this book please visit Murdoch Books Pty Limited


Review written & photographed by Jordan A.R. 

Originating from recipes developed by the Murdoch Books Test Kitchen, Vegetarian Cooking: a commonsense guide offers a wide variety of simple, affordable meals for any home cook to make throughout the year. The book begins with the “Vegetarian Adventure,” a basic look at finding nutritional balance in your diet whether or not you happen to be vegetarian. It provides information on how to avoid common dietary pitfalls by eating a variety of foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Through the combination of certain foods, this book shows you how to achieve the greatest dietary benefit from your meals.

As the title of the book indicates, this is a commonsense guide. The information presented is nothing new, but it is info people often overlook or forget. The aim of the publishers is not to preach about vegetarianism or pretend to be sophisticated health gurus, they are simply trying to “expand the menu of possibilities” by showing that one can still enjoy food without revolving every meal around meat.

What struck me the first time I flipped through the pages of the Commonsense Guide was the sheer variety of recipes, that includes everything from breads and soups to sushi and labneh (yoghurt cheese). The majority of the recipes are simple, smart dishes that don’t need a lot of ingredients or require much cooking skills; and for those that require a bit more care, well, you just have to give them a bit more care.

Overall, I found this cookbook to be a straightforward, no nonsense kind of book filled with interesting ideas worth experimenting with in your kitchen.


© 2012 Jordan A.R.

CLICK HERE FOR RESULTS FROM RECIPE TESTS

Muffin Monday: Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Swirl Muffins


Written & photographed by
Stay-At-Home-Chef

I heart Dorie Greenspan.

Frequent readers of this blog will know how much respect I have for Dorie, who in my humble opinion is a true culinary genius. I am still very much in love with her latest cookbook; Around My French Kitchen (click here to read the full review and recipe tests). And her Coffee Break Muffins are at the top of my list of favourite Muffin Monday recipes.


© 2012 CookThatBook

This week’s recipe is for a truly addictive Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Swirl Muffin. Chocolate and peanut butter – a classic flavour combination that I happen to adore. The recipe involves a few more steps than our usual muffins, but rest assured it is still straightforward and the results are worth the extra effort.

Like with the Coffee Break Muffins, I opted to follow this recipe to a tee. Yes, fleeting thoughts of peanut butter and/or butterscotch chips, Reese’s Pieces, and cream cheese peanut butter icing all crossed my mind, but I really wanted to experience these muffins as Dorie had intended.

© 2012 CookThatBook

© 2012 CookThatBook

A chocolate muffin batter consisting of dry ingredients mixed with melted chocolate and unsalted butter, are incorporated with buttermilk, egg and vanilla. Additional chocolate chips are added into the mix before the muffins are topped with a peanut butter swirl (melted peanut butter and unsalted butter, icing sugar and milk), which is then swirled into the top of each muffin.

© 2012 CookThatBook

These muffins are incredibly moist with a slight tang from the buttermilk, and full of rich chocolatey flavour that compliments the salty peanut butter swirl on top. Despite their decadence, there is no confusing these muffins for cupcakes. The texture is more dense and the level of sweetness subtle, making it the perfect definition of a muffin.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I heart Dorie Greenspan.

© 2012 CookThatBook

For a copy of the original recipe for this week’s Muffin Monday, please click here

Don’t forget to visit Baker Street’s site and be sure to check out what the other food bloggers have baked up this week!

Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street. A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.

 

Muffin Monday: Squash Feta Pine Nut Muffins


Written & photographed by
Stay-At-Home-Chef

The thing I have grown to love most about our weekly Muffin Monday challenge is the creative adaptions that emerge from one particular recipe shared amongst a group of talented and inventive food bloggers. On the one hand it boggles my mind how different our muffins can turn out, but there are also times where similar thinking garner moments of great minds thinking alike.

© 2012 CookThatBook

Immediately upon glancing through this week’s recipe which comes courtesy of 1 Mix, 100 Muffins, I decided that it was begging for a makeover. The recipe calls for the more common Muffin Method approach, combining a batter of separated dry and wet ingredients that result in more bread like muffins with a coarser texture. (For more information on different muffin types and techniques, check out Baker Street’s Muffin 101 page…lots of good info folks!) Inspired by Katie’s Kitchen, I decided to expand the pine nut and parmesan flavour profile by inviting more ‘goodies’ to the party. Specifically? I roasted off small ½ inch cubes of butternut squash and added 1 cup to the flour mixture. I also replaced the parmesan with feta cheese, and threw in ¼ cup of fresh basil for kicks. Figuring the muffins had enough excitement going on in terms of flavour, I skipped the suggested cheese and pine nut topping.

© 2012 CookThatBook

Some advice? Drop whatever you’re doing and go make these muffins. NOW!

© 2012 CookThatBook

They were incredibly moist (thank you buttermilk) and I loved the subtle crunch of the pine nuts combined with the freshness of basil and chunks of sweet squash.

Perfection.

© 2012 CookThatBook

For a copy of the original recipe for this week’s Muffin Monday, please visit Baker Street’s site and be sure to check out what the other food bloggers have baked up this week!

Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street. A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.