Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Seconds

Happy book birthday to Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley! I've waited a very long time for this book to release. You might be thinking, so what? Everyone had to wait a long time for this book. Well, that's true, so I guess I should rephrase and say that I've waited a very long time to share these cupcakes with you! I made these two years ago (May 2012) based on a rough draft of Seconds that Bryan's Canadian editor kindly shared with me. The rough draft I had was only 14 pages long at that time and thank goodness the look of the main character didn't change!
If you're still trying to place Bryan Lee O'Malley's name, he's the author of the bestselling Scott Pilgrim series (there's even a film, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World). Seconds is his new stand-alone graphic novel about a restaurant owner named Katie.
Katie is going through some tough times as she attempts to open up a second restaurant, make friends, find love, and keep a house spirit happy.
She's given a second chance to magically alter her outcome (by consuming mushrooms), but abuses her new-found power to keep changing destiny. So, uh, you know. Nothing good can come from that.
By the way, the cupcakes were vegan. Some of you might get that reference from Scott Pilgrim!
Hope you get a chance to read Seconds or pick up some of Bryan's other works. If not, I'm not sure that a magic mushroom will be able to help you!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cook the Cover: Canadian Living August 2014

Cobblers are awesome. Seriously. You get all of the deliciousness of a pie but it takes less time to prepare! They don't have to look perfect, be blind baked, or agonized in search of that perfect crust. And just like pie, they're good with a scoop (or more) of ice cream.

What should you do with all that time? Make more fruit cobblers to eat!

This blueberry dessert can be easily whipped up, but don't skip on the "something extras." The ground ginger adds a surprising punch of flavour and the cornmeal gives it a nice crunch. However, I do think that the almond extract could go. Maybe it was the extract I used, but I found it too overpowering.

Blueberry Cornmeal Cobbler
Shopping List: fresh blueberries, granulated sugar, cornstarch, almond extract, all-purpose flour, cornmeal, baking powder, ground ginger, baking soda, salt, butter, and buttermilk.

Preheat your oven to 400F (200C). Gently toss the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, and almond extract together. Divide the covered blueberries evenly among individual ramekins or into an 8-inch square baking dish.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, 1/4 cup of the cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, and salt. Add in the butter and cut it in until the mixture resembles crumbs. Drizzle in buttermilk, stirring with a fork to form soft, sticky dough. With a spoon or ice cream scoop, drop 1 scoop (if using individual ramekins) or 9 evenly spaced mounds (if using baking dish) over the blueberry mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining cornmeal.
Place the ramekins or baking dish on a sheet pan - these bad boys will overflow. And they should, you want that homemade rustic look with cobblers. Bake until the crumble is golden, about 35 minutes.
Serve warm with cold ice cream. Then, dig in!

Things to keep in mind when you're making cobblers:

The fruit does shrink when it's being baked! So don't worry about filling up the ramekins a bit more. The height will eventually sink in.

The crumble can be mixed by hand! No need for a stand mixer here. The crumble is also designed to spread, so don't worry about flattening it over the fruit mixture. The mounds will level itself out when it's in the hot oven.

As I said before, bake these with a sheet pan underneath to catch any bubbling goodness that spills over!

See what other bloggers thought about the recipe here.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Canadian Living and I received compensation for it. There was no requirement to produce a positive review of this recipe. All opinions are our own.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Julia, Child

Two years ago, there were some changes at work. Among those changes came a manuscript titled Julia, Child. After reading it, I knew that we would be crazy if our company didn't publish it. The text was filled with whimsy and the story was clever, funny, flavourful, and left a marvelous aftertaste.
Well, our company did publish this manuscript and I had the joy of assisting our editorial director, Kyo Maclear, and Julie Morstad on this book. Julie was the perfect illustrator for this book, just look at the endpapers above and the spreads below!
This beautiful book is a tale of friendship, the joy of eating, the importance of never completely growing up, and mastering the art of having a good time - something we can all get behind!
Don't forget the cupcakes! Have you spotted the cupcakes with chocolate frosting and purple flowers? And the cake stands? (Yes, I need a pink cake stand to match the illustrations!)
Chocolate Cupcakes
(Makes about 18 cupcakes)

1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar
3/8 cup of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of canola oil
1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt
1 1/4 cups of water
1 tablespoon of white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 egg
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (or 350°F). Place cupcake liners in your tray.
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and soda until uniform. Add in the oil, yogurt, water, vinegar, vanilla, and egg. Whisk until combined and smooth.
  3. Evenly distribute the batter and fill the cupcake liners 3/4 of the way. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool before frosting.
Chocolate Ganache Buttercream
Recipe can be found here.

Roll out some purple fondant and cut out little flowers to decorate! Remember, Julia Child once said that "a party without cake is just a meeting.” So true.

Oh, and if you're looking to win a copy of the book (plus others), click here!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

No-Bake Mini Cheesecake Blossoms

Beauty! These no-bake mini cheesecake blossoms were so fun to make, mainly because I love desserts that feature some kind of floral decoration. What can I say? I love it when I get flowers!

Now, I've made my fair amount of cheesecakes before, and always found it agonizing when you place it in the oven and cross your fingers that it bakes evenly. Nobody wants cracks to show up on the surface of a perfectly smooth cheesecake. And there's the bain marie (or water bath) that you have to deal with. So if you're on the lookout for a no-bake recipe, this is one to try.

No-Bake Mini Cheesecake Blossoms
Shopping List: cream cheese, sweetened condense milk, icing sugar, vanilla extract, unflavoured gelatin, chocolate sandwich cookies, and fruit.

Let the cream cheese rest in room temperature for about an hour or so. Letting it soften up helps the mixing process a lot!

This is pretty simple and having a stand mixer makes it even easier. You throw in the cream cheese, sweetened condense milk, icing sugar, and vanilla extract and beat it until it's smooth.

In a small bowl, you mix the gelatin with boiling water and stir until it dissolves. Then add the gelatin into the cream cheese mixture.
Fill a piping bag with the batter and pipe cream cheese to cover the bottom of the mini cupcake liners or mini dessert jars. A good friend of ours bought me a set of mini dessert jars for my birthday and I was pretty excited to use them. The glasses are about two inches tall and I was able to fill nine of them. The recipe yields about 24 for mini cupcake liners.
Place one cookie (I used regular sized chocolate sandwich cookies, but use the mini versions if you're going with mini cupcake liners) in each and press it down so that some of the batter comes up on the sides. Pipe on the remaining cheesecake batter to cover the cookies.

Refrigerate for at least three hours or overnight.
I'm deviating a bit here, so if you're up for mango blossoms, read on. If you want other blossom ideas, watch this video to see how easy it is to decorate your cheesecakes with fruit.

Remove the skin from the ripe mango and slice all four sides around the mango seed. Next, lay the pieces down thinly slice them so you have many semi-circle pieces. Picking the right mango is crucial as you don't want one that is too firm because it won't bend and might break, and you don't want one that is too ripe for it'll become mushy if you try to curve it.
To create the blossom, take one of the shorter slices of mango and curl it up to form the middle of the bud. Place it in the middle of the cheesecake. Then, take medium slices and wrap it around. You want the curve side facing up and the straight edge on the cheesecake. Keep surrounding the middle piece with mango slices until you reach the edge of your bowl or cupcake liner.
You can probably work the opposite way and go outside in if that's easier. You also don't have to place the bud in the middle! Even if you start on the side, just keeping adding mango slices for a lovely layered look.
You can garnish your cheesecakes with whatever you like, maybe you know some chocolate fans, add some chocolate crisps or chop up your favourite candy. Drizzle on caramel sauce. Add dollops of jam and cream. But guys? Blossoms are pretty and impressive. ;)

Share your no-bake mini cheesecake blossom snapshots with @canadianliving on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with the hashtag #CLIMadeIt.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Canadian Living and I received compensation for it. There was no requirement to produce a positive review of this recipe. All opinions are our own.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Blog Tour: All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

I'm so happy to be participating in my first blog tour for a book here! I've organized a bunch for work, so it's refreshing to be on the other side of things. And there's probably no one better to collaborate with for my first blog tour than Wendy (she's an amazing blogger - bookmark The Midnight Garden if you're looking for great reads), who is also a fellow food lover, and someone I had the pleasure of meeting at ALA recently.

Sometimes, timing is everything. My editorial director at work had an extra All Four Stars ARC from a colleague at Penguin Canada, so she gave it to me to read. Of course I devoured it and was so hungry after reading it. (I then passed the ARC to Steph at kitchen frolic - this is how word of mouth starts!) Later, reading the book blogs I follow, I find out that Wendy is hosting the blog tour. Do I sign up? YES! So here we are ladies and gentlemen.

All Four Stars
Written by Tara Dairman
Hardcover | 288 pages | Ages 8–12
ISBN 978-0-39916-252-7

All Four Stars is a fun middle-grade read for those who love food and writing - a combination of two of my favourite things. But wait, there's more! New York City, food review, desserts, grand schemes, and humour are also included.

The story revolves around Gladys Gatsby who has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven. Her fast-food-loving parents have no idea and are filled with horror when they find out. They don't know why recipes never work out for them and don't understand why people would want to cook when they can conveniently get take out. Gladys is cut off from cooking (and her allowance) until she can pay for the damages she's caused in their kitchen.

In attempts to have Gladys become more well-rounded after the kitchen accident, her parents devise a list of things she can do. It was so nice to see Gladys develop and grow in her social and school surroundings, to the point where a school assignment leads her to reviewing for one of the largest newspapers in the world. This is where the fun begins as Gladys figures out a plan to sneak into New York City, eat at the exclusive dessert restaurant, write her review, and keep her dream job a secret.

The book leaves you hungry for more so it's no surprise that there's a sequel in the works!

In honour of All Four Stars, I made some crème brûlée to celebrate. Gladys' troubles begin when she makes crème brûlée at home and loses control of the torch - revealing her secret hobby to her parents. The first time I made a classic crème brûlée, I used a tiny kitchen torch which took it's sweet time to melt the sugar. My dad walked in, took a look, and walked back out. He returned with his propane torch and suggested I use that instead. Much to afraid because it was super powerful, I declined and proceeded with my slow little kitchen torch and got scoffed at by my dad. I thought I would share that since Gladys had the opposite reaction from her dad.

This time, I wanted to try something different and made osmanthus flavoured crème brûlée. I felt that Gladys would have liked that extra ingredient.
Preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C). Place four 6-ounce ramekins in a small roasting pan or a baking dish with sides higher than your ramekins. Pour 2 cups of heavy cream into a medium saucepan and add in a teaspoon of dried osmanthus flowers. Heat the cream and occasionally stir to prevent a skin from forming on the top. When the cream starts to bubble and boil, remove it from the heat and turn off your stove. Let it cool and steep for 10 minutes.
In another bowl, whisk 6 egg yolks, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt together. Pour a third of the heavy cream into the egg yolk mixture while whisking. Continue to add the heavy cream until it is all combined.

Take the small roasting pan with the filled ramekins to your oven and set it on the oven rack. Gently pour hot water into the roasting pan - be careful not to get any into the ramekins! The water should reach about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the custard is set, it'll still be wobbly in the middle. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan. Set it aside to cool in room temperature. Then cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least 4 hours). When your oven has cooled, carefully take out the roasting pan and pour the water out.
I wanted you to be able to see the osmanthus sprinkled throughout the crème brûlée, normally you would put the mixture through a sieve, but doing so would remove the osmanthus!
Look at that, super smooth! Sprinkle a teaspoon of granulated sugar evenly on top and set your torch on to it create that signature crunchy caramelized topping.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the All Four Stars Blog Tour! There are fantastic posts, excerpts, recipes, and giveaways at each stop.
Tuesday, July 1st: The Midnight Garden
Wednesday, July 2nd: The Reading Date
Thursday, July 3rd: For What It’s Worth
Friday, July 4th: The Spirit of Children’s Literature and me!
Monday, July 7th: Xpresso Reads
Tuesday, July 8th: For the Love of Words
Wednesday, July 9th: Finding Bliss in Books
Thursday, July 10th: Candace’s Book Blog
July 7th – 10th: Cuddlebuggery, Great Imaginations, Lone Star on a Lark, Log Cabin Library, The Hiding Spot, Fic Talk, Carina’s Books, Karen Brissette @ GoodReads, Book Jems, Sporadic Reads, and The Social Potato Reviews

Win a copy of All Four Stars!
Thanks to our friends at Putnam, we have 8 finished copies of this lovely book to give away throughout the blog tour. All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below and leave a thoughtful comment below telling us why you’re excited to read the book! Visit each stop to earn extra points, or you can also tweet, pin, etc. Open to U.S. and Canadian residents aged 18 or older, or 13 or older with parental permission. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway copies are provided by the publisher, and photographs are courtesy of the author.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...