Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Simple Homemade Chicken Stock/Soup!

Today has been a fun day so far! For the first time in a while I got to wake up and head straight into the kitchen, and not just to make breakfast.

But before we get to that, I want to talk about last night. Last night I made a simple homemade Alfredo sauce with chicken. We bought skin-on, boned chicken because it's significantly cheaper if we do the work ourselves, but, as I was de-boning the chicken, I wondered "What can I do with all these bones, skin and fat?" Instantly a vision of Anne Burrell from Food Network popped into my head. I  had just watched her show the day before and she had made chicken stock. She explained it was just three easy steps: Boil, Simmer, Strain. And she was right, it really is that simple.

So this morning I went straight to work. I roughly chopped carrots, a green pepper, a red pepper, a tomato, an onion and some garlic. That, along with the chicken bones, skin, fat and whatever meat was attached all were thrown into a big pot, covered with water and let to boil.

Once at a rolling boil I added a couple bay leaves, some salt and pepper, a dash of basil and parsley and a pinch of saffron and rosemary and let to simmer, covered, for about three hours.

After that I set a colander over another pot and strained my stock from the chicken bones, veggies and everything else. If I wanted, I could have left it like that. Chicken stock is great for many things including making rice and bolognese. But I was definitely in the soup mood (I know, strange considering the weather), so after I strained the soup I picked apart the chicken pieces and threw them back into the stock along with the carrots and onion. It was delicious.

There's no real recipe to this guys, just do what Anne Burrell said: Boil, Simmer, Strain. Put whatever you want in it with your raw chicken scraps. Just make sure to cover it with water so that everything cooks well. Simple and delicious! 

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Comment Question:
1. Do you eat soup in summer?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Happy Ice Cream Month!

In case you didn't already know, it's national ice cream month in America, and while I may not be in the U.S. of A., I am still definitely celebrating! Here is a taste of the ice cream I made Saturday night, by hand and without the use of an ice cream maker... The flavour is cinnamon-vanilla and it turned out SO deliciously. You want the recipe you say?

Well you're just going to have to wait until Christmas... I have something special planned for all of you! (By which I mean, I'm writing a cook book and hope to have it ready to be bought by Christmas).

Happy Ice Cream Month!

How are you celebrating National ice cream month?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Peach Olive Oil Cake

I made this cake as a back-up. If you've read my post for the Lemon Meringue Tart, you'll know that I made a couple mistakes and I was nervous on how it would turn out. Luckily, it turned out, but it doesn't hurt to have a little extra dessert!

This cake came out beautifully. It was the second time I've used my spring form pan, and I'm so glad I bought it- a regular cake pan wouldn't have worked. The cake is a little lemony, slightly sweet, definitely moist, pleasantly dense and is a perfect canvas to show off the delicious and summery fresh peaches. Oh, did I mention I FINALLY found fresh peaches in this country? It took forever! I wish I had found some sooner because I had plans to make a raspberry-peach pie. But now I'm out of raspberries. Oh well, c'est la vie! 

The recipe I used came from here, and I adapted it to my liking, and that recipe is an adapted version of a Martha Stewart recipe- so you know it's going to be good!

Peach Olive Oil Cake:
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup plain yogurt 
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus a touch more for tossing with fruit
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 small-medium peaches cut into slices

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch spring form pan.
In a large bowl using a spoon, thoroughly combine the olive oil, sugars, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon zest and yogurt.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Add the flour mixture to the olive oil mixture in two batches, mixing until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top with the back of your spoon.
Toss the peach slices with a little flour. Arrange the fruit slices over the batter, then bake the cake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Loosely tent the with aluminum foil and continue to bake until the sides of the cake pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing the sides of the pan. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve, warm and with vanilla ice cream if you like.

This is the perfect cake to serve with after-dinner coffee. Or as breakfast... like I had this morning. I mean, if you ignore the cup of sugar, it's pretty healthy, right?

And Don't forget to leave a comment!

                          Lemon Meringue Tart

                          I'm not going to lie, I made a few mistakes with this... but it still turned out delicious! I made this tart for a dinner party I held last night, and everyone loved it. My mistakes? I accidentally doubled the amount of butter in the filling... adding 16 tablespoons and not 8... and I also over-browned my crust, causing it to crack. No matter, it still turned out pretty and delicious! This is definitely a recipe to come back to time and again. The original recipe if from The Baker Chick, but of course I tweaked it to make it my own. 

                          What do you think of this picture? Let me know in the comments below!

                          Lemon Meringue Tart
                          -8 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted cut into pieces
                          -3/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (I needed 6 for this.)
                          -3/4 cups sugar
                          -zest of two lemons, (preferably unsprayed.)
                          -pinch of salt
                          -3 lg. egg yolks (save 3 whites for the meringue)
                          -3 lg. eggs


                          -3 lg. egg whites
                          -5 tablespoons sugar
                          -pinch of cream of tar tar
                          -a few drops vanilla extract


                          -1/3 of one batch of this crust recipe, chilled 

                          Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  
                          Roll out the dough evenly until it is large enough to line a 9-inch tart pan and is about 1/8-inch thick. Carefully transfer the dough to the tart pan, pressing it into the sides, and trim to remove the excess. It's okay if it falls apart a little, just press it back together with your hands. If it feels too warm, chill it in the fridge while you work on squeezing the lemons.
                          Cover the dough with foil or parchment paper and fill with baking beads or dried beans (like I used).  Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and baking beads and using a fork, gently poke holes in the bottom and sides of the crust.  Bake until the crust is golden, no more than 5 minutes. Take care to watch the crust as it can easily get too brown and crack (mine did a little, it taste just as good though it was harder to serve). Cool on wire rack until you're ready to fill it. 
                          Lower oven temp to 375*F.
                          In a medium-sized saucepan, warm the butter, lemon juice, sugar, zest and salt. When the butter has melted and the mixture is warm, gradually pour some of the warm lemon juice mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly to temper. Whisk the egg mixture into the pan. 
                          Cook over low heat, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. Whisk until filling thickens and it is jelly like. When you make designs in the mixture with the whisk, they should hold their shape. Do not let boil or it will curdle. Press through a fine mesh sieve to make silky smooth. Pour into tart shell and bake for 10 minutes. 
                          At this point, I let my tart cool and then chilled in the fridge overnight. You do not need to do this, you can skip straight to the meringue. I would just advise to not make the meringue until the day you are serving because if you put meringue in the fridge it will lose some of its volume and "weep" (cause a liquid layer between the meringue and the lemon filling). 
                          To make the meringue: whip the egg whites on high speed to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar and cream of tar tar, while whipping on high speed, until the meringue is shiny and stiff. Beat in the vanilla and then spread over tart with a spoon. Put tart under broiler on high for 1 minute- watching constantly to prevent burning. Serve as is! 

                          A deliciously toasty pillow of meringue atop of tangy lemon filling in a sweet pie crust. Yum!
                          And don't forget to leave a comment!

                          Sunday, July 3, 2011

                          Canada Day/ 4th of July Cheesecake!

                          Happy (belated) Canada Day to all my fellow Canucks, and happy (early) 4th of July to all you American readers! Today's post is going to be pretty special. 

                          I bought myself a couple of things this week... firstly a Spring form Pan. It's my first spring form pan, as those of you who've been reading my blog for a while know. I'm as pleased as punch with the results. I also bought myself a fancy-ish camera. It's an Olympus SP-800UZ. It's really pretty... and it takes really pretty photos like the ones in this post. 

                          Though I'm in a faraway country, I still felt it necessary to celebrate Canada Day. So I made this cheesecake. It's lemony and a little chocolaty- delicious! And so pretty and patriotic with the beautiful swirls of pinkish-red. My food colouring is a little finicky- it takes quite a lot to turn something white into red. For you American folks, you can always swirl in a bit of blue as well. 

                          Oh and I had a genius idea for this cheesecake (albeit too late), instead of using red/blue food colouring, you can mix in some strawberry/blueberry sundae sauces to give it a more summery flavour, as well as making it look patriotic! 

                          This cheesecake has a delicious Oreo crumble base because who doesn't love Oreo cheesecake? I also served it with some Maple syrup- it goes perfectly with the lemon flavour and gives it a little more of a Canadian touch!

                          Do you like the plate I used? I bought it specifically for shooting. 

                          Jamie's Canada Day Cheesecake:
                          -3 cups cream cheese, softened
                          -1 cup granulated sugar
                          -3 eggs
                          -1 tbsp vanilla
                          -1 tbsp lemon juice
                          -zest of 1 lemon
                          -about 16 Oreos
                          -4 tbsp butter

                          Preheat oven to 325*F.

                          To make the crust:
                          Put the Oreos, 4 at a time, into a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs. Add butter, a tbsp at a time, and pulse until mixture comes together. Press mixture into a prepared spring form pan (sprayed with non-stick spray and buckled correctly). 

                          The cheesecake:
                          Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar in 3 batches and beat well after each. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure to beat very well after each. Add the vanilla, beat again. Add the lemon zest and juice, beat a final time. 

                          Pour onto prepared crust, reserving about a cup of the mixture. Add food colouring until you get the colour you want (if doing two colours, divide the batter into 2 separate bowls, then colour). Pour into pan, drop extra food colouring on top and swirl with a butter knife. 

                          Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, checking at 40. Your cheesecake is done when edges are set but a small dollar-sized dot in the middle is still jiggly. 

                          Cool on rack for 30 minutes. Chill in fridge for a few hours, until firm and fully set. (To speed it up: chill in freezer for about 2-3 hours.)

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                          Have a happy and safe holiday weekend!

                          Comment Questions:
                          1. What's your favourite Canada day/4th of July dessert? 
                          2. What do you think of the photography in this post compared to my other posts?

                          PS- my giveaway is still going on- don't forget to enter!