The Sweetest Crumb

Archive of ‘Recipes and Food Adventures’ category

Weekend and Salad Rolls

Happy Sunday!

How is everyone’s weekend? I’m trying to make the most of mine since I will be off to small town Alberta starting tomorrow for 2 weeks of work. Last night, some friends had us over for a fantastic beer tasting! They prepared 10 beers for us to taste and each was of a different style: lager, india pale ale, porter, stout, etc. Each beer was selected because it provides a good representation of that style of beer. I am no beer connoisseur by any means, but had a great time tasting the beer and deciding which styles I liked and which I wanted to avoid. My favourites of the night included:

  • Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen (German wheat beer)
  • Wild Rose Hoptimal (Double India Pale Ale from Calgary, Alberta)
  • Het Anker Gouden Carolus Tripel (Belgian Tripel)

If anyone needs some beer recommendations, check out our friends’ blog!

After that we headed over to the Parka Party at Latitude 53 to meet up with some friends and hang out on the outdoor winter patio. It was a great time and I love seeing events in Edmonton which celebrate our winters.

Now for something a bit more healthy, and that won’t leave you with a hangover headache like the one I am currently dealing with ;)

I LOVE salad rolls! What can be better than all those fresh ingredients, wrapped in soft rice paper and served with peanut sauce? They are so easy to make – the most time consuming part is just cutting up all the fillings. And let me tell you, the homemade ones are just as good, if not better, than restaurant rolls.

I made two varieties of rolls.
The first was a traditional roll made with: shrimp (cooked by simmering at about 165ºF with lemon, peppercorn, parsley and a bit of salt and sugar), vermicelli noodles, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, basil, cilantro and mint.

The second roll was filled with: chicken (pan-fried with Asian Five Spice sauce), mango, avacado, vermicelli noodles, lettuce, crushed cashews, basil, mint and cilantro.

I took the rice paper sheets, one at a time, and submerged them into warm water for a few seconds until they turned malleable. I took them out of the water, carefully wiped them off of excess water and laid them on a flat surface to fill, roll and seal.

The end result was a bunch of delicious, perfect salad rolls.

I served them with peanut sauce we purchased from the Asian supermarket but next time I will try this recipe from Oh She Glows. I’m sure it will be fantastic since it comes highly recommended by my friend, Sarah, who has a great blog on leading a healthy lifestyle.

Have a good week, guys!

Not Enough Time and a Kale Addiction

Does anyone else have this problem where they feel like they want to accomplish so many things and there’s just not enough time? That’s what I’ve been feeling lately… Like there are a million ways I want to spend my time, but there’s just not enough of it.

I want to eat healthier, to exercise more, to spend more time with those I love, to bake more and blog more, to spend a year in pastry school in France, to become more involved in the Green community in Edmonton and to be an advocate for the environment, to pick up more garbage (I’m not kidding, I love the Capital City Clean Up), to learn more and give more and just to sit and relax and do absolutely nothing sometimes. Basically, you name it and I probably want to do it ;)

I feel like to accomplish all that I need one of those magic time stopper things which Hermione from Harry Potter had (while I’m at it, I’ll also take her magic powers, please!). And what I find is that with so many things on my mind, and with so little spare time, I just get overwhelmed. In the end, that makes me way less efficient and no closer to getting anything accomplished. So my advice to anyone in the same, unpleasant boat, is not to try and conquer everything at once, but instead to just focus on doing one more thing that you are currently doing. I first heard that advice in the Clean Bin Project movie (which I loved!) and it really stuck with me. I’m going to try to incorporate just one more yoga class into my week, and one more bowl of organic greens into my meals and maybe pick up just a few pieces of trash on my way in to work. Hopefully, if I’m not trying to conquer all my goals at once, they will be more manageable!

So in the spirit of doing one more thing for your health, here is an amazing recipe for kale chips!

Ok, it’s not really a recipe since its super easy. They are seasoned with just olive oil, sea salt, fresh ground pepper and lemon juice. You can add these to taste as well as any other seasonings or spices you like. The chips are so addictive and healthy that you just have to try them – trust me. They are light and crunchy and way better than I could have possibly expected. I made a batch on Sunday for the first time and then ended up making 3 batches within 24 hours. Basically the only reason I’m not currently eating some is that Safeway ran out of kale (possibly because of me).

The key to having crunchy, perfect chips:

  1. Don’t drench your kale leaves in liquid. After you wash your kale, let it dry thoroughly before dressing. Then, put very little olive oil or other liquid seasoning on the leaves. You want the leaves to just be lightly covered in the oil. If you put too much, they will get soggy rather than crunchy when you bake them.
  2. When baking, the leaves turn very quickly from crunchy and perfect to burnt. Watch them closely in the last few minutes of baking to make sure you take them out at just the right time.

Let me know if you guys love these as much as I do – I’m addicted and totally see what all the hype was about. (They were also a hit with my family and I couldn’t make a batch last more than a few hours.)

Oh and I’ve had a few requests lately for recipes which aren’t all sweets and butter so I will try posting more of those in the future. I guess it makes sense to balance things out since I sadly can’t sustain myself on cookies and cupcakes alone. So stay tuned….

(more…)

Not Enough Time and a Kale Addiction

Does anyone else have this problem where they feel like they want to accomplish so many things and there’s just not enough time? That’s what I’ve been feeling lately… Like there are a million ways I want to spend my time, but there’s just not enough of it.

I want to eat healthier, to exercise more, to spend more time with those I love, to bake more and blog more, to spend a year in pastry school in France, to become more involved in the Green community in Edmonton and to be an advocate for the environment, to pick up more garbage (I’m not kidding, I love the Capital City Clean Up), to learn more and give more and just to sit and relax and do absolutely nothing sometimes. Basically, you name it and I probably want to do it ;)

I feel like to accomplish all that I need one of those magic time stopper things which Hermione from Harry Potter had (while I’m at it, I’ll also take her magic powers, please!). And what I find is that with so many things on my mind, and with so little spare time, I just get overwhelmed. In the end, that makes me way less efficient and no closer to getting anything accomplished. So my advice to anyone in the same, unpleasant boat, is not to try and conquer everything at once, but instead to just focus on doing one more thing that you are currently doing. I first heard that advice in the Clean Bin Project movie (which I loved!) and it really stuck with me. I’m going to try to incorporate just one more yoga class into my week, and one more bowl of organic greens into my meals and maybe pick up just a few pieces of trash on my way in to work. Hopefully, if I’m not trying to conquer all my goals at once, they will be more manageable!

So in the spirit of doing one more thing for your health, here is an amazing recipe for kale chips!

Ok, it’s not really a recipe since its super easy. They are seasoned with just olive oil, sea salt, fresh ground pepper and lemon juice. You can add these to taste as well as any other seasonings or spices you like. The chips are so addictive and healthy that you just have to try them – trust me. They are light and crunchy and way better than I could have possibly expected. I made a batch on Sunday for the first time and then ended up making 3 batches within 24 hours. Basically the only reason I’m not currently eating some is that Safeway ran out of kale (possibly because of me).

The key to having crunchy, perfect chips:

  1. Don’t drench your kale leaves in liquid. After you wash your kale, let it dry thoroughly before dressing. Then, put very little olive oil or other liquid seasoning on the leaves. You want the leaves to just be lightly covered in the oil. If you put too much, they will get soggy rather than crunchy when you bake them.
  2. When baking, the leaves turn very quickly from crunchy and perfect to burnt. Watch them closely in the last few minutes of baking to make sure you take them out at just the right time.

Let me know if you guys love these as much as I do – I’m addicted and totally see what all the hype was about. (They were also a hit with my family and I couldn’t make a batch last more than a few hours.)

Oh and I’ve had a few requests lately for recipes which aren’t all sweets and butter so I will try posting more of those in the future. I guess it makes sense to balance things out since I sadly can’t sustain myself on cookies and cupcakes alone. So stay tuned….

(more…)

Healthy Raw Cookies – Yay or Nay?

It’s time to confess…. up until now I have been a raw cookie virgin! While I never made them myself, I have seen more and more of them around – “raw” cookies… healthy cookies… gluten free and vegan cookies. I am generally of the standpoint that if you eat a healthy diet and make time for exercise, you shouldn’t have to feel guilty when you have the occasional cookie, cupcake or pie (well maybe if you eat the whole pie you can feel a bit guilty). I think everything should be enjoyed in moderation and that cookies don’t need to be healthified in order to be enjoyed guilt-free. Having said that, I am completely for incorporating healthy choices into my daily life, especially when they are delicious, which bring me to my first batch of raw cookies!

When I saw this recipe on Sprouted Kitchen I couldn’t help but think all the ingredients sounded delicious and these cookies would make a great, healthy snack. There is no flour, eggs, butter or sugar in these guys and no baking is required! They are gluten free and vegan-friendly.

First you get your ingredients assembled:

I made sure to add 1/4 cup of cocoa nibs (which can be purchased from Duchess Provisions in Edmonton) to make the cookies chocolatey and delicious. If you don’t have cocoa nibs available, you can use finely chopped, good quality chocolate.

Then you use a food processor to grind your almonds.

Combine the rest of your ingredients and food process until an even consistency and colour.

I found that my batter was very dry so it’s a good idea to add a bit more peanut butter or even some water to make the batter easy to work with. Your dough should be of a consistency that sticks between your fingers and can be rolled into balls. Scoop batter one tablespoon at a time, roll into a smooth ball and flatten with a fork.

So I’m sure you’re wondering what I think after making my first batch of raw cookies. Well what I did like was that they were so simple to put together and obviously full of healthy goodness. What I didn’t like is that they were surprisingly overly sweet for my tastes (I would add less honey next time). Also, for anyone who hasn’t tired raw cookies before, be warned, the texture is obviously going to be a bit different from what you’re used to with typical, “from-your-oven” cookies.

Overall, I don’t by any means intend for these cookies to replace the spot I have reserved in my heart (and stomach)  for good old buttery, sugary baking. However, I love the idea of making raw cookies as a healthy snack. I am definitely going to keep an eye out for more raw cookie recipes to try. Does anyone have any they love and want to share? I’d love to try them out!

Healthy Raw Cookies – Yay or Nay?

It’s time to confess…. up until now I have been a raw cookie virgin! While I never made them myself, I have seen more and more of them around – “raw” cookies… healthy cookies… gluten free and vegan cookies. I am generally of the standpoint that if you eat a healthy diet and make time for exercise, you shouldn’t have to feel guilty when you have the occasional cookie, cupcake or pie (well maybe if you eat the whole pie you can feel a bit guilty). I think everything should be enjoyed in moderation and that cookies don’t need to be healthified in order to be enjoyed guilt-free. Having said that, I am completely for incorporating healthy choices into my daily life, especially when they are delicious, which bring me to my first batch of raw cookies!

When I saw this recipe on Sprouted Kitchen I couldn’t help but think all the ingredients sounded delicious and these cookies would make a great, healthy snack. There is no flour, eggs, butter or sugar in these guys and no baking is required! They are gluten free and vegan-friendly.

First you get your ingredients assembled:

I made sure to add 1/4 cup of cocoa nibs (which can be purchased from Duchess Provisions in Edmonton) to make the cookies chocolatey and delicious. If you don’t have cocoa nibs available, you can use finely chopped, good quality chocolate.

Then you use a food processor to grind your almonds.

Combine the rest of your ingredients and food process until an even consistency and colour.

I found that my batter was very dry so it’s a good idea to add a bit more peanut butter or even some water to make the batter easy to work with. Your dough should be of a consistency that sticks between your fingers and can be rolled into balls. Scoop batter one tablespoon at a time, roll into a smooth ball and flatten with a fork.

So I’m sure you’re wondering what I think after making my first batch of raw cookies. Well what I did like was that they were so simple to put together and obviously full of healthy goodness. What I didn’t like is that they were surprisingly overly sweet for my tastes (I would add less honey next time). Also, for anyone who hasn’t tired raw cookies before, be warned, the texture is obviously going to be a bit different from what you’re used to with typical, “from-your-oven” cookies.

Overall, I don’t by any means intend for these cookies to replace the spot I have reserved in my heart (and stomach)  for good old buttery, sugary baking. However, I love the idea of making raw cookies as a healthy snack. I am definitely going to keep an eye out for more raw cookie recipes to try. Does anyone have any they love and want to share? I’d love to try them out!

Basic Buttermilk Cupcakes

Hello hello!

Did you guys have a good weekend? Mine was great and filled with a lot of baking. It was my nephew’s birthday, so to celebrate, I made cupcakes!

I’m basically a cupcake fiend – I’ve made cupcakes for all occasions: birthdays, pastry day at work, watching Bachelor with my friends on Monday nights… I’ve had a lot of people ask me for the cupcake recipes I use and have even had a few friends over for cupcake teaching sessions. I figured today was a perfect time to share my basic cupcake batter with you guys! Once you get the hang of a basic batter recipe and have a reliable buttercream frosting up your sleeve, you’ll be unstoppable in the cupcake department!

So my advice is to start with the buttermilk cupcake recipe below and the swiss meringue buttercream (both from Martha Stewart). Then you can play with different batters – devil’s food cake, red velvet, etc. And different frostings or even flavouring your buttercream with delicious things like homemade caramel, ripe strawberries or rich chocolate… MMmmmm!

To give you guys some ideas, here’s a few photos of cupcakes I’ve made in the past:

buttermilk cupcakes with swiss meringue buttercream grass and marzipan ladybugs:

fruitcake cupcakes with seven minute frosting and meringue mushrooms:

banana (robot) cupcakes with honey buttercream frosting:

buttermilk cupcakes with swiss meringue buttercream and marzipan bumble bees:

billiard ball cupcakes, decorated using buttercream and coloured sanding sugars:

devil’s food chocolate cupcakes, with chocolate butterflies:

cookie monster cupcakes, decorated with buttercream and Scotch mints for eyes:

Ok so to get you guys started… here’s my buttermilk cupcake recipe! And here is the swiss buttercream frosting. Enjoy! (more…)

Basic Buttermilk Cupcakes

Hello hello!

Did you guys have a good weekend? Mine was great and filled with a lot of baking. It was my nephew’s birthday, so to celebrate, I made cupcakes!

I’m basically a cupcake fiend – I’ve made cupcakes for all occasions: birthdays, pastry day at work, watching Bachelor with my friends on Monday nights… I’ve had a lot of people ask me for the cupcake recipes I use and have even had a few friends over for cupcake teaching sessions. I figured today was a perfect time to share my basic cupcake batter with you guys! Once you get the hang of a basic batter recipe and have a reliable buttercream frosting up your sleeve, you’ll be unstoppable in the cupcake department!

So my advice is to start with the buttermilk cupcake recipe below and the swiss meringue buttercream (both from Martha Stewart). Then you can play with different batters – devil’s food cake, red velvet, etc. And different frostings or even flavouring your buttercream with delicious things like homemade caramel, ripe strawberries or rich chocolate… MMmmmm!

To give you guys some ideas, here’s a few photos of cupcakes I’ve made in the past:

buttermilk cupcakes with swiss meringue buttercream grass and marzipan ladybugs:

fruitcake cupcakes with seven minute frosting and meringue mushrooms:

banana (robot) cupcakes with honey buttercream frosting:

buttermilk cupcakes with swiss meringue buttercream and marzipan bumble bees:

billiard ball cupcakes, decorated using buttercream and coloured sanding sugars:

devil’s food chocolate cupcakes, with chocolate butterflies:

cookie monster cupcakes, decorated with buttercream and Scotch mints for eyes:

Ok so to get you guys started… here’s my buttermilk cupcake recipe! And here is the swiss buttercream frosting. Enjoy! (more…)

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Many people are intimidated to attempt a buttercream frosting. I know it may seem tricky – it is after all known to separate if made incorrectly. But I promise, it is not difficult to master and once you have it perfected, it is great for frosting cupcakes and spreading over cakes. It makes a really flawless finish and tastes amazing.

So when you’re trying this recipe just keep in mind the following tips:

  • When adding your butter to the egg white mixture, the mixture may start to look like it is separating or clumping – don’t worry! Just keep mixing until it comes together into a smooth frosting. If your mixture is still not coming together, try increasing the mixer speed for a few minutes.
  • All your ingredients should be at the same temperature (room temperature), otherwise your buttercream will separate. If this happens, you can salvage your buttercream by altering the temperature (if your mixture feels warm, place it over an ice bath and if the mixture feels cold, wrap a hot towel around your bowl)

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

By Genia Rodnyansky Published: February 10, 2013

    frosts about 15-20 cupcakes

    Ingredients

    • 5 large egg whites
    • 1 cup and 2 tbsp sugar
    • pinch salt
    • 4 sticks unsalted butter room temperature
    • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

    Instructions

    1. Combine egg whites, sugar and salt in a medium bowl which is set above a pan of just simmering water. Whisk the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved and it is warm and smooth to touch.
    2. Transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk the mixture, starting on low speed and increasing slowly to medium-high speed. Whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue whisking until the mixture is fluffy and glossy (about 10 minutes) and the mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl).
    3. Decrease mixer speed to medium-low and begin adding butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in vanilla. The mixture may look like it is separating but continue beating until it comes together and becomes smooth. Switch to a paddle attachment and beat to remove any air bubbles.
    4. If you are using food colouring, tint by folding in gel colours until fully combined. Transfer frosting to a pastry bag with a tip of your choice and frost cupcakes!

      Swiss Meringue Buttercream

      Many people are intimidated to attempt a buttercream frosting. I know it may seem tricky – it is after all known to separate if made incorrectly. But I promise, it is not difficult to master and once you have it perfected, it is great for frosting cupcakes and spreading over cakes. It makes a really flawless finish and tastes amazing.

      So when you’re trying this recipe just keep in mind the following tips:

      • When adding your butter to the egg white mixture, the mixture may start to look like it is separating or clumping – don’t worry! Just keep mixing until it comes together into a smooth frosting. If your mixture is still not coming together, try increasing the mixer speed for a few minutes.
      • All your ingredients should be at the same temperature (room temperature), otherwise your buttercream will separate. If this happens, you can salvage your buttercream by altering the temperature (if your mixture feels warm, place it over an ice bath and if the mixture feels cold, wrap a hot towel around your bowl)

      Swiss Meringue Buttercream

      By Genia Rodnyansky Published: February 10, 2013

        frosts about 15-20 cupcakes

        Ingredients

        • 5 large egg whites
        • 1 cup and 2 tbsp sugar
        • pinch salt
        • 4 sticks unsalted butter room temperature
        • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

        Instructions

        1. Combine egg whites, sugar and salt in a medium bowl which is set above a pan of just simmering water. Whisk the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved and it is warm and smooth to touch.
        2. Transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk the mixture, starting on low speed and increasing slowly to medium-high speed. Whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue whisking until the mixture is fluffy and glossy (about 10 minutes) and the mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl).
        3. Decrease mixer speed to medium-low and begin adding butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in vanilla. The mixture may look like it is separating but continue beating until it comes together and becomes smooth. Switch to a paddle attachment and beat to remove any air bubbles.
        4. If you are using food colouring, tint by folding in gel colours until fully combined. Transfer frosting to a pastry bag with a tip of your choice and frost cupcakes!

          Eclairs with Bouchon

          Hi friends!

          A couple weeks ago I got the Bouchon Bakery book. I kept seeing it everywhere and was drawn to it (possibly because it was covered in plastic and I was oh so curious about what magical baking photos and recipes were inside). So I decided to just go ahead and order it through Amazon and boy was I excited when it arrived!

          The first night I literally could not put the book down. I even read through all the beginning sections about how to measure ingredients and calibrate your oven (just in case).

          For anyone not familiar with the book, it is a collaboration of several chefs and bakers who run the Bouchon bakeries in the US. Keller apprenticed in France so I think it’s fair to say a lot of the recipes have both a French and American influence. I love that the recipes they share are the same recipes they use in the bakeries. They also list exactly what brands of products they use so you can recreate the professional product at home. Having said that, a lot of the ingredients are fairly specialized, making them somewhat difficult to track down for the at-home baker.

          Feeling ambitious, I had planned to make my first recipe from the Bouchon book on Sunday (this was before I realized how much wine would be consumed at the CA ball on Saturday night and how less than ideal I would feel on Sunday morning). But, since I spent a lot of time the week before tracking down exactly the right ingredients (70% cocoa Valrhona chocolate, neutral glaze…), I figured there was no sense in postponing the baking! So on Sunday, I made my first ever batch of eclairs!

          Eclairs are made of pâte à choux (choux pastry) which is a high-moisture dough that releases steam when it bakes which makes the dough rise and puff out. Essentially, the inside should be mostly hollow, allowing you to fill them with cream (or other filling of your choice). I followed the Bouchon recipe to a T and filled mine with chocolate pastry cream and topped with shiny chocolate glaze.

          For a first attempt at choux pastry, I think I did pretty good! In the end, the eclairs tasted great – a perfect, decadent chocolate flavour. However, I did run into a few difficulties along the way. To be honest, the first batch was somewhat disastrous. Despite adding exactly the right amount of egg (measured to the gram!), the batter was way too runny and the baked pastries were a flat failure. I immediately tried a second batch, adding less egg. This time the consistency of the batter was much thicker and held its shape when piped.

          The pastry rose quite a bit this time.

          However, I would still have liked the pastry to puff out more, leaving more hollow space inside for filling it with delicious chocolately goodness! I also noticed that some eclairs on each tray rose more than others so maybe the issue had to do with uneven heating in my oven. Since making the eclairs, I’ve gotten some tips that I wanted to pass along to you guys:

          • removing the eclairs from the oven early will cause them to collapse, ruining the hollowed out portion inside
          • the amount of egg to be added will vary depending on many factors (type of flour used, how long the dough is cooked before adding the eggs, etc.) so it is essential to add eggs based on the consistency of the dough and not purely based on the volume of eggs called for

          The glaze and the pastry cream were flawless though. To make the glaze extra shiny, I followed Keller’s suggestion of using neutral glaze. Sadly, I could not find the neutral glaze in a volume smaller than 5kg, so I basically have a lifetime supply of glaze in my basement now. I’m willing to share should anyone want some :P

          Overall, for a first attempt, I was very pleased with the outcome and can’t wait to try it again. I will share the recipe once it’s been perfected. Have you guys tried making choux pastry or are you thinking of trying it? Do you have any tips you’d like to share?