Friday, July 29, 2011

Pool Party Cookies and Cake Pops


So my fancy/obsession with cookie decorating continues. We were invited to a pool party last Sunday. It was great fun seeing old friends and making some new ones. JJ and his wife recently purchased a new home. We had never been so as house warming gifts, I brought cookies and cake pops. Although not perfect in appearance, they have kids, so I knew they would be eaten and loved. 








 F U N D A B B L E R  F A C T 


One of the lead producers of watermelon in the US is Arizona! And in Japan they grow watermelons in cubes so they ship better. Crazy! 





Sugar Cookies: (Taken from Glorious Treat's recipe for sugar cookies Thank you miss!)


INGREDIENTS

All purpose flour - 3 cups
Baking powder (ideally without aluminium) - 1 teaspoon
Unsalted butter - at room temperature 1 cup (2 sticks)
Sugar - 1 cup
Egg - 1 large
Vanilla extract - a good quality 1 teaspoon


Parchment paper

 INSTRUCTIONS (Copy and pasted from Glorious' site) 

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  This should take about 3 minutes.
Add the egg and vanilla and beat another minute or so.
Add the flour mixture slowly.  (Be careful not to add too much at a time or you will have a snowstorm of flour.)
Blend until all of the flour is incorporated and the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a piece of parchment paper.  
Using your hands, knead the dough a few times.
Place the dough in a large plastic (ziplock type) bag and refrigerate for about 2 hours.  If you want to speed up the chilling process, place the bag of dough in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes. Just don't forget it in the freezer, or it will become to firm to work with (and then you'll have to wait for it to thaw).  
When it's almost time to remove the dough from the refrigerator (or freezer), preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
-When the dough has chilled and is firm, take out about half of the dough, leaving the rest in the refrigerator (until your ready to work with it).  

For your Royal Icing Glorious suggests Wilton's recipe, and that is what I used:

 INGREDIENTS 

Meringue Powder - 3 tablespoons
Confectioners' sugar - 4 cups (about 1 lb)
Warm water - 6 tablespoons

 INGREDIENTS 

Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 min at low speed w a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand held mixer).



Cake Pops - See Bakerella for explanation on how to make Cake Pops.



In summary: make your recipe of favourite cake, add 1 can of frosting, roll and refrigerate. Coat your lollipop sticks with a little chocolate and dip into your cooled cake pop balls. Leave in the fridge again until it is firm. Then form, and coat, and decorate! 



A helpful tip, I learned to make a mini bain-marie while making my cake pops so that my chocolate stays melted. It was fabulous. I would pour out the water and add more boiling water from my kettle. Loved it!






Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cookies for the Newlyweds!




I DID IT! I made decorated sugar cookies for the first time in my LIFE!


 FUNDABBLER FACT 


In Iran, it is said that wedding ceremonies must be done under the roof for good luck!



So I have been following amazing cookie artists like Sugarbelle, Glorious TreatsKatie's Something Sweet… All of whom sparked my need to make cookies! I must say I am no where near as good as these ladies, but hope to get somewhere close one day. 



Last week we went to our friends' (Y&P) wedding. They, like me and my husband, are a Quebecois/Persian couple so their wedding reminded us of our journey thus far and all the sweetness that comes with our different backgrounds that make our lives that much more interesting. 



I am always paranoid to give a check at the wedding because what if it gets lost? It's not like the bride and groom are going to be like, "you didn't give us a gift"… I guess you can see if it was withdrawn from your bank. Ok so conclusion: I'm just paranoid. So I decided to take them some newlywed cookies with a card underneath, and the check inside. PHEW!




Sugar Cookies: (Taken from Glorious Treat's recipe for sugar cookies Thank you miss!) 

 INGREDIENTS 

All purpose flour - 3 cups
Baking powder (ideally without aluminium) - 1 teaspoon
Unsalted butter - at room temperature 1 cup (2 sticks)
Sugar - 1 cup
Egg - 1 large
Vanilla extract - a good quality 1 teaspoon


Parchment paper

 INSTRUCTIONS (Copy and pasted from Glorious' site) 

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  This should take about 3 minutes.
Add the egg and vanilla and beat another minute or so.
Add the flour mixture slowly.  (Be careful not to add too much at a time or you will have a snowstorm of flour.)
Blend until all of the flour is incorporated and the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a piece of parchment paper.  
Using your hands, knead the dough a few times.
Place the dough in a large plastic (ziplock type) bag and refrigerate for about 2 hours.  If you want to speed up the chilling process, place the bag of dough in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes. Just don't forget it in the freezer, or it will become to firm to work with (and then you'll have to wait for it to thaw).  
When it's almost time to remove the dough from the refrigerator (or freezer), preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
-When the dough has chilled and is firm, take out about half of the dough, leaving the rest in the refrigerator (until your ready to work with it).  

For your Royal Icing Glorious suggests Wilton's recipe, and that is what I used:

 INGREDIENTS 

Meringue Powder - 3 tablespoons
Confectioners' sugar - 4 cups (about 1 lb)
Warm water - 6 tablespoons

 INSTRUCTIONS 

Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 min at low speed w a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand held mixer).



THINGS I LEARNED

You will notice that you need to keep your icing covered or it will harden quite quickly. Sugarbelle suggests to store them with a paper towel and covered in an airtight container. Because I am not well equipped, I do not have pastry bags or cool squirt bottles for flooding like the experts, so I used ziplock bags with the tips cut off! Simple as that. Then to store them I put them in another ziplock bag and in the fridge. You can keep it up to 2 weeks (according to Sugarbelle) others say longer so go with what you like. 


Have fun and ENJOY!



Friday, July 22, 2011

Fish Friday au Marché Jean Talon


Friday is Fish day here at Marché Jean Talon. Most vendors stock up on Friday for the weekend rush, and with fish, freshness is a must! Unfortunately as of a few years ago I am not able to eat fish. I became intolerant to the mercury found in the fish, my liver just couldn't take it any more so I broke out in hives and even had some throat swelling…. AK! So sad, because fish is so good for you and yummy. Needless to say, alternate sours of Omegas have their role in our home. 




Anyway I was walking around last week at the market and noticed their shipment. Monsieur J.P. was kind enough to allow me to run and get my camera while he took a little coffee break. 





"It was Halibut day"(flétan- my word for the day, halibut in French). J.P. informed me that halibut is  the only fish you can get 4 filets from. Because it is a flat fish, you have both sides to use. The season for Halibut fishing is in the summer. I enjoyed seeing the process. Often times we forget where our food comes from.




Halibut has a moderate content of mercury. Pregnant women and young children are advised to choose fish with mild mercury content.



I find it SO complicated to be responsible choosing fish. In a way I'm thankful I don't have to make the moral, environmentally conscious decisions anymore. For those of you who do eat fish, consider yourself deemed as responsible eaters and be wise when choosing your fish.







This is a great site I found that helps a bit. It is the EDF (Environmental Defence Fund) They made a great little visual chart on which fish is the "eco-best, eco-ok and eco-worst" to eat. It also notes the fish with the higher mercury content as well as those with highest Omega content! 







 FUNDABBLER FACT 

The Atlantic Halibut is fished by gillnet, classifying it as an "eco-worst" fish to choose.  Be responsible in your fish choices while still eating well. 


My fabulous friend Ms. M had previously requested a Ceviche, she just had her little girl so NOW I can happily post this knowing she can make some if she wants! Congrats on your beautiful bundle of joy! 

This recipe is from Food and Love (so it's not my own recipe) Check out his site to see pictures of his recipe and other fun ideas!

I have not made it (because of the whole allergy thing) but just reading through makes my mouth water. Thanks Robert! I love the fact that he gives you a wine pairing suggestion. GREAT TIP! 

Try it out and let my taste buds live vicariously through yours!



Makes about 4 servings or 8 smaller sides

 INGREDIENTS 

Halibut Fillet - about 2 lbs
Red Onion - 1 medium thinly sliced
Lime Juice - 2 cups freshly squeezed
Green Jalapeno - 3 tablespoons brunoise
Red Bell Pepper - 3 tablespoons finely chopped
Cilantro - 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup hand torn
Olive oil - 4 tablespoons
Sea Salt - are or flakey to garnish


 INSTRUCTIONS  

Prepare the fish: Skin and bone. Remove any darker pieces of flesh, particularly anything along the blood line. Pat the remaining flesh dry. Cut into thin slices not unlike sashimi servings.
Combine the halibut, red onion, and lime juice in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Gently stir to coat. Cover and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes, gently stirring halfway through.
Remove from the refrigerator. Gently strain the fish and onions through a mesh strainer. Transfer the fish to a clean mixing bowl.
Add the jalapeño, red pepper, and 1 tablespoon of cilantro. Gently stir to combine.
Divide among plates. Top each serving with a glug or two of olive oil. Garnish with a large or flakey finishing sea salt, such as Bali Pyramid Salt. Garnish with the remaining cilantro. Serve. Pairs well with a Spanish white wine of the Albariño grape.

ENJOY!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Sandwiches

One of my aunt's friends actually taught me this recipe. I think the first time I ate this I was about 12. Loved it and have made it since, well since I have been cooking. Ideally it is made on the BBQ but my hubby wasn't home and I have a fear of the BBQ... I promise I'll get over it some day soon, but for now, the oven is what I used. You can also cook your mushrooms in the toaster oven if you are making this for 2.




Serves 5
Takes about 1 hour to prepare and make

 FUNDABBLER FACT 

Mushrooms remain very active after harvest compared to most produce, and may even continue to grow. During four days storage at room temperature, they lose about half of their energy reserves to the formation of cell-wall chitin. The wait actually adds to their flavour!  (On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee)

 INGREDIENTS 

Portobello Mushrooms - 5
Garlic cloves - 2 crushed
Marinated Roasted bell peppers - 2 (from a jar, or if you're motivated, yourself)
Cheese of your choice - (I chose Mozzarella) as much/or little as you would like
Salad dressing - I chose Balsamic vinaigrette other good ones are Italian, or just olive oil and balsamic vinegar with some salt and pepper.
Pita bread - 4 of them cut in half 
Olive oil - to brush or spray on

 INSTRUCTIONS 

Pre-heat your BBQ or toaster oven or regular oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse your mushrooms (contrary to what some people say, it is ok to wash your mushrooms, as long as you are going to cook them immediately).



Prepare your Marinade- mix about half a cup of either Italian salad dressing, a balsamic vinaigrette or just balsamic vinegar and olive oil with some crushed garlic and about 3 tablespoons of olive oil.



Brush your marinade onto your mushrooms generously. Place in oven and allow to cook for about 20 - 30 min.



While your mushrooms are cooking, slice your cheese.



Cut your marinated bell peppers.



Spritz your pita breads that have been halved and opened with a bit more olive oil. You could grill your pitas a bit if you like.


Ok so I love oil spritzer, you don't need it, it's just fun. Your brush can do the same, or a clean finger I imagine… but this I just love! 



Then start piling it up. I like to cut the mushrooms in half and place them inside the pita bread so they are well dispersed. 



Then the cheese and roasted bell peppers. 



I added fresh onions to mine but my husband said it tasted better without. You pick. I LOVE onions so… bad reference. 



The toddler version of the meal (fresh bell peppers, mozzarella cubes and mushrooms with pita slice; everything but the mushrooms were eaten, go figure!)




Enjoy!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Grilled Bell Pepper Soup


In Arizona, we have Roasted bell pepper soup at most local grocery stores, organic  and all! This was something I made to quench a craving. I really liked it and served it as a side in my wine party as well. 

Serves 4-6
Takes about 30 min to make


 F  U N D A B B L E R   F A C T 

Corn tortillas are a fantastic alternative to the flour tortilla. Not only is it a whole grain but it is much lower in sodium, fat, and calories! Also gluten Free! :) 


 I N G R E D I E N T S 

Marinated bell peppers - 5
Potatoes - 4 small (very small) about 1 large.
Tomato paste - 1 small
Onions - 1 medium
Smoked sweet paprika powder - 1 teaspoon 
Garlic - 4 cloves
Cream - 1 cup
Broth of choice - 2 cups (I used vegetable)
Coriander - 1 teaspoon
salt and pepper to taste


Serves about 6
Takes about 20-30 min to make


 F O R   T H E   T O R T I L L A   S T R I P S 
Corn Tortillas - about 5
Enough vegetable oil in a pan that you are frying so that your tortilla strips are 1/2 submerged.

 I N   T H E   S O U P   A F T E R   S E R V I N G  
Fresh avocado chopped about 1 heaping table spoon each serving
Grated Cheese

 O N   T H E   V E R Y   T O P 
Coriander sour cream - a dollop 

For 500 ml of sour cream add 1 tablespoon of ground coriander salt and pepper.


 I N S T R U C T I O N S 

Cut and fry your onions and garlic


Chop and fry your potatoes until transparent.



Add your spices, the paprika salt and pepper and ground coriander. Give it a little stir to awaken the aromas.



Add your broth


And marinated grilled bell peppers


Add your tomato paste



Allow to boil a bit then purée



Add your cup of cream and mix make sure it does not boil just keep it warm.

For your Corn Tortilla Strips

Cut your strips, add oil to a pan and fry until almost golden. The hot oil will still cook the strips once you take them out. Set on a paper towel and immediately add a bunch of salt. OR just purchase them depending on where you live they are usually readily available.  





When served, add a tablespoon of avocado chopped, some grated cheddar cheese (It's ok if those two sink, that is even better, just remind your guests, or those eating to mix then eat) then add your coriander sour cream mixture and finally your thin tortilla strips! YUMY! 



 N O T E  I find this soup very rich so it is a side soup perhaps a half a cup portion or 1 cup portion at a time. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cookie Cutters and Plate to PIxel




FUNDABBLER FACT 

I am intimidated by cookies and digital photography... SO:


I am so excited, I just got my 101 Wilton cookie cutters. I have been following a few very talented ladies in their cookie adventures. Mostly Sugar Bell , Glorious Treats are my new obsessions. Their fantastic creations have inspired me to start cookie making. It scares me and blows my mind but I think it will be great fun! 


The Pilate to Pixel book is something that I figured I need. I am not satisfied with my photos for the blog, and Hélène Dujardin's story of starting out as a pastry chef and falling into photography is great inspiration for me to get with it! I want magical photos for everyone to enjoy, but more importantly to document my journey. 

All through high school I had my camera in hand and the darkroom was my second home. The smell of fix still brings back great memories (although I don't suggest it to anyone… can't be too healthy). I think the digital change turned me off and instilled this hidden anxiety about it all. Silly- yes. So I'm facing it. 

My promise to me, and to you, is to take a new step. I will get over my cookie fear and re awaken my photography spark. Hopefully from now on you will enjoy my photos as much as my recipes. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Black Bean, Bell Pepper and Corn Salad


I was looking for something Mexican inspired to crisp up my wine party Mexican meal. Along side some mole, a nice roasted bell pepper soup, and a mini quesadilla it was great. Something cool, a great summer side dish that is super healthy and satisfying. 



Serves about 6-8
Takes about 15 minutes


 F O O D A B B L E R   F A C T 

Black beans are loaded with antioxidants, ranking fourth among bean sources of antioxidants per gram. They’re also the top bean source of magnesium—a mighty mineral lacking in the diets of 64% of men and 67% of women that has been shown to help lower the risk of colon cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. - Dole Nutrition Institute on Dr. Oz's site 


 I N G R E D I E N T S 

Black beans - 1 can
Bell peppers - 3 (1 red, 1 orange, 1 yellow)
Green onions - about 2 cups 
Fresh Cilantro - about 1 cup chopped
Lime Juice - fresh of  1 lime
Olive oil - 1 or 2 swirls
Corn - 1 cup or 1 can
Ground Coriander - 1 teaspoon
Cinnamon - 1/4 teaspoon
Salt and Pepper to taste

(OPTIONAL)
For the Sour Cream
for 250 mL of Sour cream add 1 tablespoon of dried ground coriander salt and pepper to taste You can also add some fresh cilantro if you want to get even more fancy! 




Serves about 6
Takes about 20 min to make



 I N S T R U C T I O N S 


Drain your beans



drain/defrost your corn



cut your bell peppers



juice your lime



Cut your coriander



Cut your green onions




Add your oil, salt and pepper and serve. (OPTIONAL) You can top it off with a dollop of flavoured sour cream. My hubby does not like sour cream so I don't have any on mine.