Saturday, November 28, 2009

Daring Bakers November: Cannoli

In preparation for this month's challenge, I went to Lina's Italian Market and tried one of their Sicilian Cannolo.

Mmm, it was scrumptious! The pastry shell was dense, slightly sweet and flaky all at once, and the sweet ricotta filling had a kick (brandy?) that offset the richness. Somehow I was able to eat the whole thing. Then, I embarked on my own cannoli journey...

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Running dough through a pasta maker
I made the dough with cheap red wine instead of sweet marsala cooking wine, which I couldn't find. The dough is pinkish thanks to the wine, and I think that is part of the reason they were far more tender than they're supposed to be.

I used a cup to cut out circles, and then ran them through the pasta maker again to make them into ovals.

Ready to fry
The dough, wrapped around metal cannoli forms. The recipe said to use egg white to seal, but I used soy milk and it worked perfectly.

Frying the cannoli
The first cannolo frying...

Not well-sealed
This one popped off the cannoli form, I think because I only sealed it with water.

Fresh from the fryer
Cooling the forms so I can remove them from the shells.

Stacked cannoli
Finished cookin'!

Check out that bubbly skin!
Lovely blistering of the pastry.

Making the filling
A beater from the filling-making process. I thought I took photos of the ricotta that I made from scratch but I guess not. It was wonderful, though! I combined ricotta with sugar, cinnamon, amaretto, and chocolate chips.

Cannoli With Ricotta Filling
I meant to make a nice little finale photo out of the finished product. But I got so frustrated using my piping bag that I just took a shot and ate one of 'em. The chocolate chips I used were too big to fit through the tip of the bag and a huge mess ensued. Sigh...

Dough scraps with confectioners' sugar
I also fried up all the dough scraps and dusted them with icing sugar, mmm.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sushi Rice: Fail!

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.
Happy dragon roll

Well, I was not happy with how this challenge turned out for me. The problem was the rice: it was too dry, and did have enough seasoning.

I believe I did everything correctly, but the rice is SO important and it turned out poorly. I don't do the rice soak when I usually make sushi because everytime I've tried, it's too dry and just not good. I'm guessing it's due to Calgary's dry climate, but there was nothing in the challenge about that so too bad for me!

Spiral Rolls & Nigiri

The challenge included making the rice, rolling a dragon roll, spiral/decorative rolls and nigiri. Most of them look pretty good, but yuck. Bri liked them though, and it's not as if they were inedible, just a pain in the ass because it took about 3 hours to make it.

Spiral rolls - details

These ones were a bit ridiculous. Before I cut the roll into pieces, the whole thing was the size of a sub sandwich. And not one on squishy bread either, the kind on a big baguette that you can't even fit in your mouth. Not my kind of sushi unfortunately.
Dragon roll

Oh well, I will feed my sushi craving properly another time!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hashing it out, loafing around

Seriously, you should make this. Try it!
 Monday's Supper
Veggie Loaf takes over the world! With her sidekick corn & edamame salad!
This recipe is made easier with a food processor and a shredding attachment, but it can be done with a regular box grater as well. The ingredients are pretty versatile, so use what you have on hand for seasonings. While I recommend that you pick up some nutritional yeast, I can understand if you're hesitant, or if you just can't find it where you live (Calgarians may not complain, I found nooch at Superstore last week! Although it doesn't have B12 in it, strangely). You can leave it out and substitute a bit of vegetable bouillon powder, or maybe some dry soup mix, or a tablespoon of miso, just be aware of how much sodium you add. Enjoy!
Ready for the oven
Ready for the oven.

The Thrifty Vegan's Mouthwatering Hash Brown Loaf
  • 1 largish onion (should be about 2 cups once shredded)
  • 3-4 medium russet potatoes (should be about 4 cups once shredded)
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup spelt flour (can substitute with regular, whole wheat or rice flour)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • black pepper to your tastes
Fresh from the oven
  1. Shred onion in food processor or with box grater (be careful!). Transfer to large bowl. You will cry, be prepared.
  2. Shred potatoes, squeeze dry in cheesecloth or do the best you can with a colander. Transfer to same big bowl of onions. (NB: Don't let the potatoes sit too long or they will turn black. That won't affect the taste, but it won't look very nice. If you have to leave them for awhile–more than a couple minutes–cover the potatoes with water).
  3. Add rest of ingredients, plus anything else you might like to spice things up with. In fact, after you’ve added the vinegar, you can be pretty creative with the spices.
  4. Mix thoroughly with a spoon, or your clean, flu-free hands, until the potato shreds are clearly covered with delicious flavour.
  5. Transfer mixture to lightly oiled or non-stick loaf pan. (NB: If you don’t have one, try baking it in a pie dish, or individual lunch-sized ones in muffin tins. Just make sure you adjust the cooking time accordingly–that means don’t cook it as long if it’s in a smaller container).
  6. Bake at 375 F for 1 hour.
  7. Serve with steamed veggies and nutritional yeast gravy or miso gravy.
Ahh pretty mould
Lovely ridges from the bottom of the ungreased pan.

A Week of Chow in Review

The past week’s been a little bit crazy. Friday before last was Journal production. Although it went more smoothly than the October edition, I still stuck around for about 11 hours straight. The new issue looks great, but there’s still learning to be done.

The next day I got a call from my mum inviting me on a grocery trip to Superstore. She actually called me while I was working on my Menu for the Week! Yes, you heard right, I made a menu last week! I made one this week too… My greatest tip is to look through your cookbooks, or your favourite blogs for recipes that you can try. This makes it easy to know what ingredients you will need, plus takes the pressure off of needing to invent anything. I already feel more enlightened thanks to the new recipes from this week.

Another strategy I tried out was preparing ahead for more prep-heavy meals. I baked potatoes for soup ahead of time, and soaked chickpeas overnight to get a better bang for my buck than canned beans.

So I tagged along to ol’ Superstore and, staying within my $30/person food budget, picked up the necessary ingredients for the week’s meals. Here’s what we ate last week, and a bit more of what I learned.

Vegan Hash Brown Loaf (delicious, I promise to share the recipe) with Nutritional Yeast Cheezy Sauce (from the Veganomicon) and steamed bok choy with lemon-olive oil dressing.
 Veggie Loaf!
This loaf was a result of my third try at recreating Kootenay Kitchen’s “Végé Pâté.” The real thing is a delicious spread made from potatoes, onions, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast and plenty of delicious spices. It’s great on sandwiches, crackers or straight up, but at $5+ for a little 130-gram package, it’s not budget friendly. I looked at the “how it’s made” photos on their website to get some clue as to how to recreate the little loaf. The only thing I really gleaned is that I should shred the potatoes and onions. I used the shredding disk on my food processor, and I got lots of long strings of raw potato (I’ve tried using boiled potato and ended up with a disappointing loaf of mashed potato).

It’s the long, crispy strings that make this dish reminiscent of hash browns. I think I might further process the shredded potato next time to get closer to the texture of the Pâté that I’m looking for, but the results this time were delicious anyway.

Oh! Also, I bought a silicon loaf pan at Superstore for $6. It worked great for this dish, highly recommended!

(PS: I made this again this Monday, but pretty much stuck to the same recipe: awesome again. Recipe to follow…)

Mushroom & Asparagus Risotto
Phases of Risotto
Chef Ramsey would not approve, but really, does he ever?

Now, you may be thinking that this is a weird dish to make on a budget. Asparagus risotto in November? But the asparagus was the same price as broccoli (Only $1.88/lb!) when I was at Superstore, so I couldn’t help it. I was going to use crimini mushrooms, but they were not available bulk so I just grabbed the ol’ white button mushrooms. I was sorely tempted by the cello-packs of mixed wild mushrooms, but then I saw a little bug crawling around inside the package. Ick…

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Just a Tease

I'm going out of town this weekend so I thought I'd leave you with a reason to come back to me after these weeks without posts...

Budget stuff! Hallelujah, right? Last weekend I wrote up a week-long menu, shopped for it, and then Bri and I cooked it together. Here are some things you can expect to hear about on Sunday or Monday...

Vegan Hash Brown Loaf (delicious, I promise to share the recipe) with Nutritional Yeast Cheezy Sauce (from the Veganomicon) and steamed bok choy with lemon-olive oil dressing.

Mushroom & Asparagus Risotto

Twice-baked Potatoes with feta & broccoli, chickpea & roasted red pepper “pâté,” and steamed asparagus

Baked Potato & Kale Soup (Recipe from the Veganomicon)

Popeye Pasta (recipe from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan)

Chickpea patties and miso gravy (both amazing and both from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan), with roasted yam fries and steamed bok choy

Stay tuned...

What've I missed?

Well this past week has been a doozy. Projects, applications, newspaper production, job hunting. Even though I pushed blogging to the side, I certainly didn't push cooking or baking to the side.

Actually the past few weeks I haven't been very bloggy, have I? I apologize. To help fill in the gaps between posts, follow me on Twitter! On Twitter I've posted snippets of my baking adventures that I don't have the energy to write in detail here yet.

Here's a bit of what's been going on:
Recipe here. Not super delicious, a bit bland, but the crumb was right I think. I'll try again with a sourdough started at some point.

Tomato Soup
My first tomato soup! Recipe here. Pretty good, although I used the whole roma tomatoes that we canned a few months ago and I think they were a bit overripe, because the soup was a little too tart.