Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 2011 Daring Baker - Edible Containers (Sweet)

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at!

My optional second title of this post is "Maybe Renae will one day learn to follow directions". But, that's not today!

I did make a great Maple Mousse! Thanks Evelyne for the great challenge! I really liked this mousse - but it is amazingly sweet. I can see why she recommended the bacon cups to serve it in. I wish I had followed my own instincts and added some ginger to the mousse, I think that would have made it taste better. But, live and learn, next time.

And, yes, you did hear me right, the original challenge was Maple Mousse in Bacon Cups. Since I had already decided to make bacon cups for the Daring Cooks challenge, I needed to look for an alternative.

Yes, that was just an excuse - you know me, I'm really not for the meat in dessert phase we are going through right now. Yea, Yea, I know mincemeat and all that. And, I like mincemeat - vegetarian mincemeat!

Anyway, back on topic. Since I saw dried pineapple flowers on Martha Stewart, I have wanted to try them. This gave me the perfect opportunity. Her cups are much prettier than mine. But, I was happy with the results. I must caution you, though. I didn't follow directions. I thought I could dry them out in a mini cupcake cups. Nope, you can't. Follow her directions, and be sure to slice the pineapple paper thin, or yours will turn brown like mine did.

I followed the mousse recipe exactly, and was happy with the results. I do really wish I had tried the vegan version though, since this mousse is not for people that have dairy issues like I do occasionally.

Maple Mousse:

• 1 cup (240 ml/ 8 fluid oz.) pure maple syrup (not maple-flavoured syrup)
• 4 large egg yolks
• 1 package (7g/1 tbsp.) unflavoured gelatine
• 1 1/2 cups (360 ml. g/12 fluid oz) whipping cream (35% fat content)

1. Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.
2. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).
3. Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.
4. Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.
5. Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.
6. Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.
7. Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour.
8. Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your edible containers.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fruit Salsa/Fruit Nachos

I have been looking forward to Spring for quite a while now. It has been a very long, very wet winter here. It rained almost the entire month of March, and most of April. Luckily, that has not stopped the overflow of fresh fruits and vegetables that are coming into season.

This picture kind of fools you, doesn't it? It looks like a nice salsa, but when you bite into it, it's all fruit. I've been toying with the idea of Strawberry nacho's for quite a while now. I just love strawberries served on flour tortilla's that have been crisped either in a pan or in the oven.

Well, I decided to take this one step further, and make a fruit salsa. The result? Fantastic. I tried it with various "chips", and all were winners. My choice were the flour tortilla's I made, although Cinnamon Sugar Pita chips were a very close second. Fruit salsa served on dried apple chips was an honorable mention, but it is the healthiest option of the three.

While I was making the chips for this dish, I was thinking about all those beautiful fruits, and what I would serve them with if I were just serving a fruit tray. I remember my sister in law giving me a fruit dip recipe, so decided to make that as well, and see how everything went together.

I was not disappointed. The fruit is light, wonderful, and tastes like spring. The fruit dip provides a sweet-tart creamy note, and perfectly compliments the fruit. The chips are just bonus. A great texture and a crispy sweetness that was just perfect with the salsa and dip.

For a .pdf of this recipe, click here. Enjoy!

Fruit Salsa

For the salsa:

1 cup finely diced strawberries

1 cup finely diced pineapple

3 finely diced kiwi fruit

1 finely diced apple

1 mango, finely diced

Juice of ½ orange

Juice of ½ lime

Pinch salt

2 t. fresh mint, finely diced, optional

In a medium bowl, combine all diced fruit and juice. Taste for sweetness, and add sugar if needed. Refrigerate at least one hour. Serve chilled

For the flour tortilla chips:

4 flour tortilla’s

3 T. melted butter

3 T. sugar

¼ t. cinnamon

1/8 t. nutmeg

1/8 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350. With a 2” round cookie cutter, cut out chips from the flour tortillas, or cut into 8 wedges. Combine sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Place cut pieces on a baking sheet. Brush tops with butter, and sprinkle with sugar mixture. Turn over, and brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar mixture. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden. Turn each chip, and bake an additional 5-7 minutes until golden. Cool completely before serving.

Sweet Cheese “Dip”

1 7oz jar marshmallow cream

16 oz low fat cream cheese, softened at room temperature

1 T. orange zest

2 t. vanilla bean paste, or 2 t. vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and whip until well incorporated. Serve slightly chilled. Can be stored in the refrigerator up to 1 week.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake

Looking for something for your Easter Breakfast, but don't have time for yummy orange rolls? Give this Grapefruit and Olive Oil cake a try. It's rich, yet light. And, it's the perfect brunch cake.

You may be saying "eww" right about now. I don't blame you. But, don't knock it until you try it. Those of you that don't like grapefruit are really missing something if you don't cook with it. Believe me, when you cook it, add a little sugar, and a little fat, it becomes a taste you just can't resist.

I was a doubter too. Then I made this grapefruit curd. It's sweet, but not overly so, with a very nice citrus flavor. It's not as tart as lemon curd, but has a mild pleasant sweetness.

I took these pictures when the curd was warm, since I wanted to try it when it was both warm and cold. I think I prefer it warm, but I just love it.

I haven't always been a lover of grapefruit. It had to grow on me. While I'm still not a fan of the white grapefruit, I just love the ruby red ones. I may be biased on the grapefruit front, since I just cut it in 8ths and eat it - no salt, no sugar. But, trust me, this curd captures the essence of grapefruit without the sourness.

I got the idea of this cake from watching Michael Chiarello on his old Food Network show. I had notes in my "to cook" binder with a recipe similar to this with his name on it. But, I couldn't find one of his recipes that was close to this, so I don't know where my notes came from.

I hope everyone has a great Easter weekend! I can't wait, really. Family Dinner on Sunday. Football on Saturday. What there is not to like?

For a printable pdf, click here. Have a great weekend!

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake

Juice of 3 grapefruit

1 T. grapefruit zest

1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup sour cream

4 large eggs
1 ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a large baking dish (mine was 9x13). Combine sour cream, eggs, olive oil, and zest in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in remaining ingredients until no lumps remain.

Pour into pan and bake for 30-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes before taking out of pan. Cool completely before serving.

Grapefruit Curd

3 eggs yolks

1 cup sugar

Zest of 1 grapefruit

Zest of 1 orange

Juice of 2 medium size pink grapefruits

Juice of ½ orange

2 T. cornstarch

4 T. butter

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and juice of ½ orange. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the eggs, sugar, zest, and grapefruit juice. Heat on medium until very hot. While whisking, add in cornstarch and juice mixture. Continue stirring until very thick, 10-15 minutes. Take off heat and add butter, stirring until butter is dissolved. Strain and cool. Serve cold.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Yea, that's a totally made up word. A yummy made up word! If, for some reason, you aren't wanting to make little pizza crusts, consider making these little gems. They are great little appetizers, or a main course with a salad if you are particularly hungry.

Yes, they have a few steps, but they are well worth it. You can simply bake the potato slices, but I like the outside of the potato to be just a bit crispy. I first made these for my brother and his fiance. I could tell Fawn really wasn't sold on the idea. But, after I made them...well, lets just say her and I managed to finish them off, we couldn't keep our hands out of them. I don't think my niece ever got one.

I made these on a whim, and I'm glad I did. I never thought I would like pizza without the crust, but on a potato, it's amazing! I'm not going to tell you what the inspiration was, just to stay tuned, I will be posting a similar recipe soon!


1 medium russet potato, peeled and sliced in 1/4 to 1/2" slices
1 T. oil
2 T. tomato paste
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/4 t. garlic
1/4 t. dried oregano
10 slices pepperoni, diced
1/4 to 1/2 c. mozarella cheese, shredded
2 T. parmesan cheese, shredded

Mix salt, pepper, and garlic. Lightly sprinkle potato slices with mixture. Reserve remaining.

In a skillet, heat oil, and fry potato slices until lightly browned and cooked through. Preheat oven to 350. When potatoes are golden, remove from pan and drain.

While potatoes are cooling, mix tomato paste and remaining seasoning. Lightly spread tomato paste mixture on side of potatoes. Sprinkle with mozarella cheese, diced pepperoni, and parmesan cheese. Arrange potato slices on a baking sheet that has been lightly oiled or sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake at 350 until golden and bubbly.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes

I've been on a bit of a cooking binge lately, which means I have been going through my cooking to do list. Oh, don't get me wrong, there are still tons of things on there to try, and to create, but I'm pretty happy with my progress.

I actually purchased the malted milk powder almost 2 months ago, and it has been sitting in the pantry, mocking me ever since. While I'm not shocked that made it unscathed, I am shocked the malted milk balls made it as well.

These have me a little unsure. I really liked them, and thought they tasted just like malted milk balls. I tried to give them to baby brother, and he didn't want, but he did eat all the malt balls off the top. He could be on a diet, or who knows. He's not a very good food critic anyway...

But my middle brother, Matt and Fawn liked them. And I liked them. I was really happy with the frosting. I know that frosting that calls for melted and cooled chocolate can be kind of frustrating to pull off, but it's worth the effort. Just make sure all your other ingredients are at room temperature (like your milk). If not, you will wind up with little pellets of chocolate in your frosting. That's easy to fix by putting the entire thing in the microwave for 10-20 sec and remixing, but it can be frustrating!

I also did want to mention to take care when making these cupcakes. They can get really crisp if overcooked. For a .pdf of the recipe, click here! Enjoy!

Malted cupcakes with deep chocolate frosting
Recipe inspired by a recipe found in the 1950 Betty Crocker Cookbook for Yellow cake

Makes 18-24 cupcakes, depending on size

2 c. flour

3 eggs

2/3 c. vegetable oil

1 ½ c. sugar

3 t. baking powder

1 t. salt

1 c. milk

1 ½ t. vanilla

½ c. malted milk powder

In a small bowl, combine the milk and malted milk powder. Stir and set aside to allow the milk powder to properly hydrate.

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare muffin tins by spraying and flouring, or using liners. In a large bowl, combine eggs, oil, salt, and vanilla. Whisk until well combined. Add sugar and whisk. Add baking powder, milk, and flour, and whisk until very well combined.

Fill prepared cupcake tins and bake for 15-20 minutes, until just starting to turn light brown. Cool completely and frost with chocolate frosting.

Deep Chocolate Frosting

½ cup butter, softened

10 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

7 cups powdered sugar

2 t. vanilla

2 T. coffee

2-6 T. milk

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, chocolate, vanilla, and coffee. Gradually mix in powdered sugar. Add milk, a little at a time, until you get a consistency you like. Frost cupcakes.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 2011 Daring Cooks - Edible Savory Containers

All right! It's time to get excited about Daring Cooks again! Not that I haven't been excited before, I have just been trying to lose some weight...yea, I know, you can laugh now, but I'm making some progress...mostly with working out, but progress is progress! I've also been striving to have very little excess in my kitchen. I feel too guilty when I toss food out, so it's time to be better about doing with what I have.

Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers! Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 17th to May 16th at!

And, wow, are there some creative containers out there. It seemed like this month, every time I thought of something I hadn't done before, I would log into Daring Cooks, and *boom* there it was, already done...finally, I decided to do something *I* hadn't done before, regardless of how many times it has been done.

It's kind of strange. I have never felt insecure about my culinary skills - until I have been humbled by all the fantastic chefs over at daring cooks and bakers. Wow, they are an awesome group. Now, I'm hoping some of their utterly amazing photography skills rubs off on me. I think I'm making progress, but who knows...

I must warn you, though. My post doesn't have many recipes. It's more of a here's what I did, and how I did it essay.

First up - inside out roast beef sandwiches. I've done quite a few versions of filling stuffed in various bread doughs (like char siu bao, and husky buns). Maybe it was time to twist that around.

I tried a few different cuts of meat, and finally decided that filet makes the best beef cup. Regardless of what you chose to use, make sure it's cut paper thin. The best way I found to do that is to partly freeze the meat, then use your sharpest knife to cut paper thin slices.

I love using filet for this for many reasons. It comes out of the oven nice and tender, and it's easy to manipulate in the cups. I used mini-muffin tins for this, thinking that a two bite cup would be just perfect. Sliced extra thinly and shaped into cups, season with salt, pepper, and a bit of garlic powder, and bake at 400 for about 3-5 minutes. To be sure these would be formed correctly, I used 2 identical tins - one on top of the beef to make sure it held shape.

Let cool slightly, and you may need to drain a bit. Fill with a bit of horseradish mayo (1/3 cup mayo, 3 T. horseradish, 1/2 t. lemon, 1/2 t. pepper), and top with a tiny biscuit you can bake the same time your cups are being baked.

Would I make these again? Yes, definitely. I would, however, cut down on the bread part of this. It's also really important you use tender beef. It's hard to create a 2 bite item if you can't bite through the beef.

Now, my second recipe was quite a bit of fun. And, no, I hadn't done bacon cups before. I've found that 1/2 slice bacon, cut in half, is the perfect size for a mini-muffin tin. I kind of smushed the two pieces of bacon together, using the "bacon glue" trick of overlapping a meaty portion with a fatty portion to get them to stick together.

I know there are several people out there that form foil for bacon cups, but I was just too lazy to do so. I smushed them into the mini-muffin tins, pressed the second tin on top of the bacon, and baked them at 350 until they looked done. About every 5 minutes, I drained the bacon fat from my cups into a bowl. This method worked very well for me.

I filled them with a mixture of 8 oz cream cheese, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, and 3 sauteed minced jalapeno's. I am really happy with these results. Mainly because I can control the heat of the jalapeno's this way!

Thank you once again for such a great challenge. I look forward to the next!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Rhubarb Fig Squares

I've had this combination of flavors in my head a while now. That seems to be a theme with me. Ideas randomly flitting through my head - some stick, some don't.

Anyway, my mom has this cookbook she bought when one of my nephews was in grade school. It's one of those community cookbooks, where all of the recipes were contributed by people in the community. The cookbook is then bound and sold for a fundraiser.

There are several interesting recipes in there - so there are quite a few post it notes in that cook book of things to try. One of the recipes is for Rhubarb Crunch - from the kitchen of Alvin Spalding. Now, I don't know who this is, but the recipe sounded like the perfect thing to change around to try my Rhubarb Fig Bars.

These bars are really tasty. The figs compliment the tart rhubarb perfectly. Since the figs can be a bit sweet, it's really nice to pair them with something as tart as rhubarb. Now, I can't wait until the next rhubarb season so I can make these again.

I did want to discuss a few things about this recipe. I did use frozen rhubarb for this. If you want to use frozen rhubarb, this recipe can handle it, you just need to let the rhubarb thaw completely before baking. If you don't, your rhubarb will not be done.

Also, if you are growing your own rhubarb, be careful with it. The stalks are great to eat, but the leaves are very poisonous. My mom used to have a huge rhubarb patch, but got rid of it so my nephews wouldn't accidentally try to eat it.

For a pdf of the recipe, click here. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Fig Squares

For the base and topping:

1 cup flour

¾ c. quick oats

1 cup brown sugar

½ c. melted butter

1 t. cinnamon

2/3 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients together. Pat ½ of the mixture in the bottom of a 9x9 pan.

For the filling:

4 cups rhubarb, diced

1 cup chopped dried figs, soaking in ½ c. hot water for 20 minutes to rehydrate

2 T. cornstarch

½ t. salt

1 t. vanilla

After the figs have been soaking for 20 minutes, drain and reserve the liquid. Whisk the cornstarch, salt, and vanilla into the liquid. Fold in rhubarb and figs, and place on top of the base in your pan.

Sprinkle reserved mixture on top of your rhubarb mixture, and bake 1 hour. Let cool thoroughly before cutting and serving.