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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Home, New Adventure!

It has been a while now since my last post. For those of you who have been religious readers of my blog, I thank you tremendously for your support. Reason for the lack of postings lately would be largly due to my new home, career and lifestyle routines. I am very lucky to now be a the Fairmont associate and in Lake Louise, Alberta of all places! Working here in the pastry kitchen is still new, full of different challenges everyday. Most of all, very exciting workplace. So here it is, my new home!


I trust that this will be an experience which I will never forget! As for the blog, I will try and continue posting new recipe ideas and talk a little about my work and life in this picturesk place on Earth. Please check back once in a while to see the updates, or even better, subcribe to my feed to be alerted of any new postings!
Thanks again!

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!

Asterix

Monday, August 16, 2010

Indian Night at Home

Once in a while, my family will develop a craving for a good dose of Indian food, for which, I am always more then happy to appease. With only a few basic recipes, anyone can put together the basic flavors of India and bring them straight to their table. Here's what I put together tonight and few ingredients that made it all possible.



CHICKPEA RED PEPPER (RED) CURRY
- Heat vegetable oil in large pot and fry; whole cumin seeds, garam masala, turmeric, and a few tablespoons of red curry paste. Frying the spices first will release all their flavors into the oil and intensify the taste.
- Add chopped celery, red peppers, onions and garlic, cook over medium high heat, then add 2 cans of chickpeas. At this point, if the bottom of the pot starts to stick, add a cup of water, and this will also help with the cooking of the dish. Cover and let simmer.





CHICKEN VEGETABLE COCONUT CURRY

- Same as above, heat vegetable oil in large pot and fry; whole cumin seeds, garam masala, turmeric, and a few tablespoons of curry. Frying the spices first will release all their flavors into the oil and intensify the taste.
- Add; chopped carrots, chopped onions, cauliflower and toss together in the hot curried spices. When the vegetables have a tine golden color to them, add a can of coconut milk and stir together. Throw in a couple leaves of dried lime leaves and let simmer.
- If you wish to add chicken to the dish, as I did, simply fry up the chicken in small cubes in a skillet, then add to the curry to simmer. Towards the end of the cooking, add some fresh baby spinach.
-Serve over jasmine rice.


ROTI (INDIAN FLAT BREAD)

-The recipe which I normally follow for my roti is 2 1/2 cups chappati flour (atta) which I find at my local Asian Superstore, to which I mix 1 cup warm water.
Prepare the desired amount of dough from the Basic Dough recipe. After resting for 2-2 1/2 hours, knead well. Divide the dough into peach-size balls. On a lightly floured surface, flatten one ball of dough with your hand. Using a rolling-pin, roll out the dough into a thin,round patty, about 5 inches in diameter. Roll from the center, turning patty several times to prevent sticking. Try to make the edges slightly thinner than the center. As you cook the chappati/roti, one could be rolling out the next, rather than shaping all of the chapatis at one time.
-Preheat a cast-iron pan over medium heat. Place the rolled dough on the palm of one hand and flip it over on to the pan. When the color changes on the top and bubbles appear, turn it over. When both sides are done, use kitchen tongs to remove the chapati from the skillet. To complete the cooking, place on griddle which is place on top of the element (as shown below), till the roti blows up with the hot air. Flip to prevent burning and remove when done. 



-To keep the chapatis (roti) warm as they are cooked, place them in a towel-lined bowl and fold over the sides of the towel. Serve hot, either completely dry or topped with a small amount of ghee (clarified butter) or butter. 



As if this wasn't enough, I also made a very delicious MINT CHUTNEY, using mint from my garden. I will include a recipe for mint chutney in a future blog posting. For now, enjoy experimenting with basic Indian flavors!

Eat well, sleep well, and till next time!

Astérix

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lemon Basil Ice Cream


Normally, people will associate basil with pasta, tomato sauces and pesto. Let's forget the more famous combinations knows with basil and try something completely new! Combine coconut, basil and lemons, and instead of having it served hot, let's serve it frozen! That's right, let's make ice cream. The sweetness from the coconut juice carries the basil flavor very well, and those flavors, very well delivered to your pallet thanks to the tartness of the lemon flavors. Here how to put it together. 

LEMON BASIL ICE CREAM
- 1 can coconut milk 
- 1/2 cup purified water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup basil leaves (whole) 
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 4 tsp lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

- Bring the coconut milk, water and sugar up to heat on medium heat. Do not boil! When hot, remove from stovetop and cover to let steep the basil leaves, 45-60 minutes. 
- Remove leaves by straining the mixture in a glass of ceramic bowl. Add the lemon juice and the zest to the mixture.


- Cover and chill for 4-6 hours, until cold. 
- Process in your ice cream machine as indicated in the instructions manual. 
- Once ready, transfer to a freezer proof container and let it freeze for a couple hours to get it to a more solid consistency. 


After the ice cream is ready, serve it as you wish. I do recommend you serve it on a very soft, raw in the middle, brownie. The combination of warm chocolate with this frozen basil ice cream, is heavenly. Impress your friends with this great recipe!

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!

Astérix

Garden update July 2010



A couple months have passed since I started planting my garden. There is nothing I love more then to spend my evenings taking care of it, while basking in the evening sun. The nearby lake is buzzing with new life, including the clouds of bees, so thankful for the selection of flowers in my front garden. I have been making an big effort to utilize my harvests as much as I can, and to share those recipes with you. From Thyme and Fig Bread to using chives and basil in morning omelettes, the possibilities are endless. Here are a few pics of the progress made in my garden this year. 

Cherry tomatoes



Acorn squash flower, in all its beauty

Thyme, shooting up to the sky

Banana peppers ripe for the picking 

Corn, getting taller everyday!

Yellow Bell Peppers starting to take shape

Bumblebees enjoying my front garden flowers

I'm definitely very excited to see the end results with everything shaping up so beautifully. Stay tuned for a delicious and refreshing ice cream recipe incorporating fresh basil! 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rosemary & Fig Cake


I recently came across an amazing recipe book dedicated solely on cake loaves, and fell in love. Of course this medium of baking consists on endless opportunities for flavor combinations. This one, not as traditional, delivers a good balance between sweetness from the figs, with the rich aroma of the fresh rosemary. Although this recipe is found in the "salty cakes" part of the book, it would be almost appropriate to place it with the "sweet cakes", if it weren't for it's rosemary element. Easy to assemble, delectable to accompany any meal. Try it out! The following recipe is translate from the French book called "CAKES MAISON" by Ilona Chovancova.

FIGUES SECHES ROMARIN (ROSEMARY & FIG CAKE)  (1 loaf)
- 150g All purpose flour
- 150g Spelt flour
- 3 eggs
- 250ml buttermilk
- 70ml vegetable oil
- 2 handfuls of dried figs, quartered
- 1 spring of fresh rosemary
- 11g baking powder
- salt

MISE EN PLACE
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Quarter the figs and chop up the rosemary leaves finely. Butter and flour a loaf pan.


In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and oil. Mix in the two flours, the figs and the rosemary. Add a pinch of salt and stir all together to get a smooth consistency. Gently sprinkle in the baking powder and stir to incorporate it in the mixture. Pour the batter into the mold and top with a few pieces of figs or rosemary to decorate.


Bake for 50 minutes. Before unmolding, let cake cool on a cooling rack. Enjoy with butter!


Eat well, sleep well and till next time!

Astérix

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mushroom Barley Soup



Feature plain button mushrooms in this hearty soup for lunch or dinner. This soup is a great soup to incorporate some fresh herbs from your garden. If you don't happen to grow a herb garden, most superstores will carry a variety of fresh herbs. Worst come to worst, reach in your spice rack for some dried herb, theres no problem with that. The familiar flavors of this soup always seems to bring me comfort in my day when I need it the most.


MUSHROOM BARLEY SOUP
- 1 Cup barley
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium onion, diced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 20 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
- 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 springs fresh thyme


Directions:
- In a medium saucepan, bring the barley and 4 cups of water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and summer until tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions, salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the onions have softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the carrot and celery, then cook, covered for 6 minutes more. Add the mushrooms, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, covered until they release their juices, about 4 minutes.
- Stir in the cooked barley and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove and discard the bay leaves. If desired, season wth additional salt and pepper and serve with a nice sourdough bread of multigrain buns.


The embracing aromas of this soup might even charm you into getting a second bowl! Easy to make, even easier to eat! For the whole family to enjoy!


Eat well, sleep well and till next time!

Astérix

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Banana Cranberry Crunch Cake


Usually when we think of bananas, we either think, banana bread or banana split. This recipe will change the way you think about baking with bananas. It's coffee cake texture and obvious banana taste will leave you wanting another piece! The almonds and cranberries do nothing but compliment this deliciously moist cake. Perfect to bring on picnics or to have at your next tea party. Set your oven to 350F degrees and let's get right to it! 

BANANA CRANBERRY CRUNCH CAKE (Serves 8-10)

Topping
- 1/2 Cup AP Flour
- 1/2 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup cold butter
- 1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
Cake
- 2 cups AP flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter, softened 
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp finely grated orange zest
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large, very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries

MISE EN PLACE:
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan.
TOPPING
- Stir the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the almonds.


CAKE
- Stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, mix the butter, sugar, orange zest and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until just blended after each addition. With mixer on low speed, beat in the bananas and sour cream. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients and raisins. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the topping.



BAKING AND SERVING:
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. 


After tasting some of this cake, you'll wish you always had a few bananas handy in the freezer! Hope you get to try out this recipe soon! Enjoy, but remember, sharing brings good karma! :) 

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!

Astérix

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Apple Dapple Cake


If you are lucky enough to have an apple tree on your property you know that they are not in season yet, but the ones from last year in your freezer, are! They are just begging to get out of there, and why not! Make room for this year's crop! Combine the taste of those sweet and juicy apples with the best things which compliments them, walnuts and caramel. This recipe will want you leaving more, even after the last bit of caramel is licked off your plate. Here's the recipe.



APPLE DAPPLE CAKE
(Makes 1 regular sized BUNT or 8 individual bunt cakes)
- 3 eggs
- 1 Cup oil
- 2 Cups white granulated sugar
- 1/4 Cup water
- 3 Cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 Cups chopped apples
- 1 Cup pecans or walnuts

TOPPING
- 1 Cup brown sugar
- 1/4 Cup milk
- 1/2 Cup margarine or butter (I recommend using butter)




PUTTING IT TOGETHER  (Preheat oven at 350F degrees)
- In a large bowl, combine the eggs, oil, sugar and water. Beat well. In a seperate bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. Add to the egg mixture. Stir well, then add the vanilla, apples and nuts.
- Bake in greased and floured pan for 55-60 minutes for the regular sized bunt, and 20-25 minutes for the individuals. Tops should be a golden color and a toothpick inserted, should come out clean.
- When you take out the bunt(s) out of the oven, let cool for ten to fifteen. During that time, prepare the topping. To do so, incorporate all the ingredients in a small sauce pan, and heat till all ingredients come together in a caramel mixture.


- Remove cake(s) from pan and flip onto a cooling rack, placed on top of a baking tray. Spoon 1/3 of the topping over the top of the cake(s). Carefully place the cake(s) back in the pan and pour remaining topping over the cake. Let stand 5 minutes, then invert on a serving plate, letting it stand another 5 minutes. Remove pan.


This easy recipe is always more then welcome at any picnics or potlucks, and definitely a great way to showcase the fruit of your overbearing apple tree! :) Enjoy!

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!

Astérix

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rhubarb Clafoutis


Spring has come and gone, and now we are starting the summer season in full swing. As always, my rhubarb plant which always seems to be neglected in the corner of the yard, is very plentiful which its stalk production. What to do with all of it? Well you could make a rhubarb cake, which is always a hit, or maybe even a strawberry rhubarb pie. But if you are in the mood to try something new, delicious and very easy, this clafoutis recipe is for you!


Of course the clafoutis was not originally created with rhubarb inside of it, but more so, cherries. This traditional French dessert hails from the region of Limousin, France. The word itself comes from "clafir" which means, "to fill". If you want the best of the best and to make the most traditional clafoutis, you must be using the first sweet cherries of the season, and leave them unpitted. It is believed that while baking, the pit will add extra flavor to the dish. The dish is very simple and consists of; eggs, milk, flour, sugar and sometimes butter. The pancake mix-like batter is poured over the cherries and baked to a perfect golden brown and then sprinkled with sugar. Serve it warm with ice cream for a great contrast of temperatures and flavors. 

RHUBARB CLAFOUTIS 
Makes 1 - 9' (circle or square) pie dish 
- 1 cup raw rhubarb cut into centimeter pieces
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups milk 
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- butter and sugar to prepare the pie dish


Step 1: Preheat oven at 375F. Heat up a medium sized pan on medium-high heat and add; 1 Tbsp butter, the rhubarb, and 2 Tbsp of sugar. Toss together in pan until the rhubarb has soften on the outside, without over cooking. While this is cooking, quickly butter and sugar the dish, as you would butter and flour a pan (to coat). 


Step 2: Whisk the 3 eggs in a medium sized bowl, then whisk in the milk and vanilla. Sprinkle the flour into the mixture while whisking non-stop. This will prevent from forming lumps of flour in your mixture.


Step 3: Take the rhubarb from the pan, and without having too much of the liquid from in the pan, place the rhubarb in the pie dish. Gently pour the egg mixture all around the dish without displacing the fruit. Now simply place in a 375F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a nice golden brown color is achieved.  


Step 4: When taking the clafoutis out of the oven, place on a cooling rack and sprinkle top with granulate or icing sugar, to lightly coat. Serve warm, with ice cream. 


Enjoy!

Eat well, sleep well and till next time! 
Astérix

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Forming A Bread Loaf

Whether you are making Red Wine and Walnut bread, or a simple White bread. The technique is key to getting a tightly rolled and perfectly shaped loaf. Follow step by step for a beautiful loaf of bread every time.

At this point, the portioned out dough had been rolled rightly and went through it's second stage of proofing.

Turn the ball over so the underneath seem is facing upwards. Punch down the dough with the heal of your palm.

Roll up the dough bringing it towards you, keeping it tight with both hands rolling it in.

The next step is to use the heal of your palm and press down all along the seem. This will help with removing air bubbles and also make it a lot easier to roll it onto itself a 2nd time. Once this is done, roll the load with your hand, with the seem up, and put pressure on the ends to seal it in a semi pointy shape.

Once this has been achieved, place in a greased loaf pan, and follow any other instructions that the recipe maybe have following this step before baking.