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Monday, May 30, 2011

Pirate Ship


Here's a cool birthday cake for a boy of any age. A 3D pirate ship cake is always a smash hit for the pirate in all of us. There are literally thousands of examples on the internet of this type of cake and even galleries you can browse with tips on how to assemble your own. After doing a lot of research and looking at many pictures, I decided to go ahead and try my hand at making my own.


First step was making the cake. I made enough batter to fill a 12" by 18" cake mold, made by Wilton. I first cut the cake lengthwise and cut a bit widthwise to create the 2 smaller pieces seen in the above picture.


After carving the sides, the front and using the pieces cut off to create the reste of the shape, I glued it all together with chocolate buttercream.


When I was happy the shape of the boat I covered it all with the same buttercream i used for the inside.


Using the end of a measuring spoon (you could use anything that leaves a square trace) I drew out lines in the buttercream to give the effect of wood planks. To amplify this effect I retraced the lines by piping very fine lines with chocolate and also creating nail holes. For the masts I picked up some 1/4" wooden stick at my local hardware store and cut them to the sizes I needed.


For the rest of the decorations, it is up to you to find what  you can in dollar stores and by using your imagination. Canon balls and beer barrels were created by using candies. For the posts around the ship I used marzipan, but you can also use tootsie rolls. It's all up to you. What you choose to do will make your cake unique and stand out from all other pirate ship cakes out there!

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!

Alix

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Egg Noodles with Chili Sauce

If there is one dish that I remember my grandmother making time and time again, it would be this one. The combination of spicy and sweet coming hand in hand to create an easy to make and very flavorful dish. To make this dish yourself you will need;

- one bottle of Heinz Chili Sauce
- 6-8 chorizo sausages, sliced
- One medium sized onion, finely chopped
- I added some diced pieces of zucchini (something my grandmother did not have in this recipe)
- 1 pack of "NO YOLK" Egg noodles)


To put this all together;
1. Boil the Egg Noodles as directed on the bag.
2. Fry the pieced of chorizo sausage. When the sausage pieced are cooked through, add the onion and zucchini pieces and fry till the onions are translucent.
3. Pour the entire bottle of Heinz Chili Sauce in the pan with sausages and vegetables, heat till simmering.
4. When the noodles are ready, drain and return to the sauce pan. Pour the sauce on top of the noodles and toss together to cover all noodles with the sauce. Serve and enjoy!


 You will be amazed by the flavor combinations of this dish! Try it tonight!

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!

Alix

The Sweet Potato (YAM)


The sweet potato, commonly known as a yam, has been present in kitchens around the world, even before kitchens existed. Although the term yam, derived from the Portuguese word "inhame" or Spanish word "ñame", has been adopted in our vocabulary to differentiate it from its smaller white meat cousin, the yam is a botanically very different species found in western Africa compared to the sweet potato in south america. A reason why terminology has been moved around so much, could be a result of 10 000 years of cultivating both of these varieties.  In consequence, the sweet potato has taken on an important role in many cultures and has infiltrated itself in all meal courses with it's preparation variety. So whether you are celebrating the Nigerian New Yam Festival at the beginning of August or are wanting to grace kings with your magical powers of growing the largest yam tuber, the sweet potato is always a healthy choice to add to your plate.

Here are a few dishes I put together with sweet potatoes, one having mashed the yam and then other recipe in which I roasted the yams in the oven with other ingredients. Here how I put it all together. 

Quick and Easy Shepperd's Pie
As seen in the image above, the sweet potato was boiled and mashed as a normal potato would have been used for shepperd's pie. Ingredients I used;
- Seasoned Ground Beef (which i had leftover from making tacos the night before)
- Frozen Green Peas
- Fresh Mushrooms (thinly sliced)
- A medium sized onion ( finely chopped)
- 1/4 Cup ketchup ( or a can of concentrated tomato soup)
- A large sized sweet potato, peeled, cubed, boiled and mashed

How pulled it all together;
- In a medium sized frying pan on medium heat with a bit of oil, I fried some green peas, my sliced mushrooms and an onion.
- I then added the already precooked ground beef to the mixture once my onion had taken on some color. Mixed this all together until the meat was reheated. I then added some ketchup in the pan, off the heat, just to help all the ingredients stick together. 
- I transfered the filling mixture to a regular pirex loaf pan and pressed it down with a fork. Then simply spread the mashed sweet potatoes on top and gently leveled it all with the back or a spoon. Serve right away or put in a 300F oven to keep warm. 

Sweet Potato and Green Bean Salad
Taken from the blog "Exclusively Food"



I had just bought a large amount of fresh green beens and was wondering how to used them in a salad. Then, looking for something combining them with sweet potatoes, I arrived at this wonderful blog which had just eh recipe I was looking for. This hearty side dish combines the caramelized taste of the yam with the fresh crisp flavors of the green beans. Perfect way to accompany any dish. 
Please visit Amanda and Debbie's blog at EXCLUSIVELY FOOD for the recipe and more details about this recipe. Thank you very much!

Hope you all get to try out these delicious recipes soon!

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!

Alix

Monday, May 16, 2011

Freshness of Spring


Compared to other years, when I had access to a garden, this year I found a way to incorporate freshness in my dishes even while living in a 4th floor condo. With only a few essential herbs, you can add loads more flavor to any dish, all summer long. In my flower beds I planted only my favorites; Chives, Basil, Mint, Tarragon,  Rosemary and Oregano.  Even though it is still springtime, I decided to already attack the basil plant and to make the most out of eat by featuring it in light fresh summer dishes that anyone can put together very easily.


This must be the simplest dish ever to make, and often found as a side dish or salad. To make this classic side dish, follow these simple steps;
- Slices some tomatoes and fan them out on a platter of a plate.
- Lay some pieces of goat cheese on top of the tomatoes, usually for the amount of portions wanted; I had six mounds of cheese. 
- First drizzle a small amount of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) on the tomatoes and cheese, followed by a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. 
- Finish it off by sprinkling a good amount of finely sliced basil leaves over the platter. For this dish you may use any variety of basil you wish to use. Lemon basil is very good, as is Purple Ruffle Basil and Sweet Basil, but regular basil found at your grocery store will do just fine!
- Enjoy!

For a more filling dish also incorporating a popular basil product, here's how to assemble a pesto and bacon pasta dish. This dish can be served hot, or as a cold salad, which ever way you prefer, either way, very fast to make if taking certain shortcuts. To make this dish even easier to assemble, you may want to purchase pre made pesto, sometimes less expensive to make then fresh pesto because of the large amount of basil and the elevated price of pine nuts. Never the less let's start off this recipe with a simple pesto recipe.

In a food processor, pulse;
- 2 cups of fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup of pine nuts
- 2 large sized garlic cloves, diced
Slowly add 1/2 cup "EVOO" in a constant stream into the food processor while it is on.
Turn your food processor off and clean the side of the container with a spatula. Then add;
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese and pulse to combine.

This simple pesto recipe can be used for this dish or any other pasta dishes, on top of baked potatoes or even on crostini. Now to assemble the rest of my pasta dish I needed;
- 1 box of FUSILLI noodles, cooked al dente and cooled down in the fridge until cold
- 2 medium sized fresh tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 cup bacon bits or freshly cooked bacon strips crushed in small pieces
- Enough pesto to coat the pasta about 2 Tablespoons worked for me
Toss everything to combine and decorate with fresh basil leaves.


These recipe are perfect for a summer picnic or simply to eat on a hot afternoon as a fresh meal at the end of the day. Enjoy!

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!

Alix

My New Stand Mixer


When it came time to purchase a new stand mixer, I didn't know where to start looking. Growing up, the brand of choice was Kitchen Aid and I always remember having one of their stand mixers in my home. Being in the industry, i'm used to using, at least, a 10 quart bowl mixer. I then automatically started looking for the biggest and most powerful stand mixer for home use. Some stand mixers out there offer 1000 watts of power with an 8Qt bowl, but the amount of watts taken to power the machine, doesn't always translate into the amount of power used to actually make it work. After doing more research on the subject of power usage in small appliances, I realized that only a certain amount of watts were going to be necessary for the capacity of the bowl.

It was by pure coincidence to find, walking into my pastry tool supplier, a stand mixer on sale.  This was a Kitchen Aid from the Professional 600 Series. The advertised price for this stand mixer goes way beyond the sale price which was offered to me. So, with it's 6 quarts and 575watts of power and many positive reviews, I decided to make this my new toy; and just in time. With a cake order having to be ready for the following weekend, I was more then happy to have this handy helper by my side to help me continue doing what I love to do! Here is my first project completed with the help of my new kitchen aid; a cake I prepared for a 25 year of friend of my hairdresser's.


This simply decorated cake hides a lot of flavors on the inside. The bottom tier is composed of a vanilla genoise layered with a light mousseline and fresh strawberries. As for the top tier, it is a chocolate sponge cake layered with whipped ganache. To cover the cake and to create all decorations, I used marzipan, as requested by my customer. I'm looking forward to making more of these projects in the upcoming weeks with my new mixer at my side!

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!

Alix

Monday, May 9, 2011

French Kiss Cook Promo


I would  first like to take this opportunity to thank all the subscribers and loyal readers. In the past years, French Kiss Cook has evolved and will keep changing to adapt to your wants and needs. I am currently working on including video into my blog postings, to make it not only more interesting, but a lot easy to understand how some techniques are executed. On that note, I am more then happy to announce the launch of our new promotional video clip. Hope you all enjoy it and as always I am looking forward to any ideas and comments you may have to improve this blog.

Thanks again,

Alix

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Basic cakes: Génoise


This year for Mothers Day, I made a light strawberry mousse "entremet" with a jellified mango coulis in the center. Topped with a strawberry glaze, almond paste roses and fresh strawberries, this very light and flavorful dessert was a hit with the entire family.


For every good assembled dessert, there is always a good cake base recipe to hold it all together. In this Strawberry Mousse Entremet, I used a simple white genoise. The genoise is an Italian cake named after the city of Genoa. This recipe does not contain any chemical leavening agent and, compared to many other cake recipes, used whole eggs verses separated eggs. The height of this basic cake is only achieved by capturing the maximum air capacity inside the batter. For this, you will need to use a double boiler technique. Let's get started.


Before started the batter, you will want to
- butter and flour an 8-inch, round cake mold.
- Presift 125g of flour and set aside for when needed.
- Preheat your oven at 375F

In your mixer bowl combine;
- 4 eggs
- 125g sugar
1. With a whisk, beat together the eggs and sugar in your mixer bowl, on top of pot of simmering water. Whisk continuously to not overcook the eggs and make an omelet. You will need for your mixture to reach between 40C and 50C. Use a small thermometer to make sure you are at the right temperature.
2. Take the mixer bowl off the simmering water and place on your mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat on a medium speed until the mixture has reached what we call the "ribbon stage", shown in the picture below. This meaning that a ribbon of mixture will form on top of the batter when falling from the whisk.

"Ribbon stage"
When this stage has been reached, carefully re-sift the sifted flour, directly into the egg mixture in 2-3 stages. Adding all of the flour at one time will only make the flour fall to the bottom of the bowl and create lumps which you will see when cutting into the cake after it's baked. With this in mind, carefully fold in the flour, begin careful to not overmix. This is the crucial part of making a genoise and can make all the difference in the outcome of the cake. Make sure that all the flour is well incorporated in the mix and pour into the mold right away and place in your preheated oven. The high temperature will give the rising needed for the batter and then bake it into place.


When baked, it will be firm to the touch. The genoise is a dry enough cake with a good crumb. It is commonly soaked with a flavored syrup of liquor and used for buttercream cakes. It is for its neutral taste and flavor absorbing capabilities that this simple basic recipe has been around for hundreds of years.
For more basic recipes and tips, visit the "Basic Recipes" section, found on the left side bar of the blog.

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!

Alix

Monday, May 2, 2011

Twist on Veal Parmesan


Cheap, quick, easy, but most of all delicious. What you need for this dish?
- Veal cutlets ( got 4 cutlets for 3.50$ CND)
- Can of tomato soup base ( 0,99$ CND)
-Mushrooms, leaks and a bag of instant microwaveable rice (which I received free when purchased a bag of frozen vegetables) and your favorite cheese.


To make the cutlets, I floured the meat, dipped them in an egg wash and the coated them with a combination of flour, oatmeal and spices. I then fried the cutlets a little bit of vegetable oil on medium heat. The medium heat is to make sure that is cooks thoroughly and gets a nice golden and crisp crust on the outside. When my cutlets were cooked, I placed them on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, and spread some of the tomato soup base on top. Then you may sprinkle your favorite cheese on top of the sauce, I added some blue cheese since I had some that I had to use. Then place under your oven broiler, just until the cheese has melted.


For the rice, very easy. Melt some butter in a pan on medium heat and fry up some thinly sliced leaks and mushrooms. Place the bag of rice in the microwave and follow the instructions. When the rice is done, simply add to the vegetable mix. You'll have a very quick, easy and tasty side dish for your veal cutlets.

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!

Alix

Meat Cupcakes; making dinner fun!

When ground beef becomes the weekly manager's special at my local supermarket, I can't resist stalking up the freezer with the most useful ingredient for quick dinner ideas. Having taken out a few pounds of ground beef out of the freezer, I was going to make a meatloaf. Trying to combine my passion for pastry with trying to create a twist on an old recipe, I decided to make them in the shape of cupcakes. This also shortens the cooking time of this dish because you're creating smaller portions of meat. To start off, prepare your favorite meatloaf mix. Every family has its variations and unique ingredients and flavors they like to add.


If you do not have a basic recipe to work with, here are some measurements to get you started.
In a bowl combine;
-  2 lbs ground meat (you can choose or even combine; beef, veal, pork, horse, rabbit, bison...)
- 1 Cup Bread Crumbs (you can also substitute this with the same amount of; crushed crackers or oatmeal)
- 1 large Egg
- 1- 8 oz. can of tomato sauce (or ketchup)
- 1 finely chopped, medium sized onion
If you mix all of this together and add; salt, pepper, garlic powder, it'll be delicious none the less.
Simply press this mixture into a lightly greased loaf pan and bake in a 350F oven for about an hour.

Some variations:
- adding Worcestershire sauce
- substituting some of the tomato sauce with barbecue sauce to have a more smokier flavor
- adding some dried herbs like; thyme and/or rosemary
- even adding 1/2 cup of frozen vegetable like corn or green peas
-before baking, cover the load with slices of bacon, or even a layer of ketchup
The combinations and variations are endless, so it is best to experiment with the flavors until you find what you prefer. Personally I like combining veal, pork and beef together (sometimes found packaged as a trio) and adding to it; some oatmeal for the dry ingredient, ketchup for the tomato flavor and to add some sweetness, and slices mushrooms for veggies and to develop a more complex flavor combination.


For the cupcakes, simply press your meatloaf mixture into muffin tins and place in a 350F oven for about 35 minutes. Again, because you are cooking smaller portions, the cooking time will be lessened, but make sure that the internal temperature of the meat reaches 160F, or cut into one to assure it is thoroughly cooked.


For the cupcake effect, I simply made a batch of mashed potatoes, making sure they were creamy and lump free so i could pipe them though a piping tip. Drizzle with ketchup of mustard on top of the "cupcakes" and top with a decoration. Since I added parsley to the meatloaves, I put a spring of parsley on top.


Since you've got your starch portion on top of your meat portion, all you need to include are freshly steamed vegetables and/or a fresh salad. I went ahead and made a dandelion salad with a balsamic flavored vinaigrette, topped with walnuts and cranberries. There you have it, meatloaf cupcakes for the whole family to enjoy!

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!

Alix