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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WIP Wednesday 2: Idlewood, beret, and legwarmers

My Idlewood sweater is going really well. I am about 5 inches away from finishing the body part, garter stitch the sleeves, and I am done! My goal is to finish by hopefully Thursday night, so I can wear it on Friday.

I also have the Star Crossed Slouchy Beret going on. I cast on 2 weeks ago but it's been dormant for most of the time because I hate dpns. I have a bunch of them and I see them as necessary evil. Hate is a strong word but seriously, I always end up having ladders between the needles and they drive me crazy. Yes I know it's a tension issue. I need to control my tension. I've tried and what I usually ended up with is sore fingers.

So after being frustrated that this beret is going nowhere, I splurged and bought a $11 Clover 16 inches size 11 needle. They are expensive but I think it paid off as 2 hours later I have about 60% of the beret done.

I am hoping I will finish this beret in time for FO this Friday.

I also started this owl legwarmers a couple of days ago. It is a mind-less, pretty boring knit but the end result looks great so I'm excited about it. The weather is getting cooler here so it would be great to have homemade legwarmers.

Please check out Tami Ami's blog for more awesome WIP's.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Swiss Chocolate Meringue Cookies

I made these chocolate meringue over the weekend. I am not a big fan of meringue but these cookies look so pretty in the book. And I really want to pipe those s-shaped swirls. Yes, I know! I want to bake these because I want to pipe the pretty swirls. I am nuts!

The recipe is from Rose's Christmas Cookies. Technically it's supposed to be Swiss Mocha Meringue but I don't have espresso powder on hand.

It is a pretty easy recipe to put together. Whisk the egg whites until foamy, add cream of tartar, add a bit of sugar, and whisk until stiff peaks form. Then boil the sugar and water until it reaches the 240-250 degrees. To be safe, I always took it off the heat when it reaches 230 as I know it will continue cooking and I don't want to have caramel forming. Then add the sugar syrup in 3-4 additions to the meringue. Then add the melted unsweetened chocolate.

Per the recipe Rose recommends adding a few drops of red food coloring to give the cookies a richer chocolate color. I added a few drops too many and they turned out pink, :). I like the color though.

After the batter is piped onto the cookie sheets, it needs to dry out for 2 hours or until the meringue stays intact when touched with a finger.

I ended up letting it dry for 2 1/2 hours. And yet they crack! Rose said in her book that the meringue would crack when it's not dried up properly. I think mine is properly dried so I 'm not sure what happened but every single one of the crack! Oh well, they are still pretty and tasted very good. I love the chocolatey smell and flavor.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Last Cake, Next Cake

A slow week for the HCBer. 

Kristina, back from her vacation and baking hiatus, made the Black Chocolate Party Cake as a catch-up. One would hope that back after a hiatus, everything will go all smoothly. Not so. The cake-making process went without hiccup, until Kristina got to the part where she poured the chocolate syrup onto the cake. At this part, she use a plastic wrap to pull any chocolate syrup puddles back onto the cake. Sounds pretty straight forward, except that the syrup melted the plastic wrap. Adding to this calamity is the cake cracking when she tried to move it! Not dismayed by this, Kristina resolved "Oh well, if you take the first slice from the place where it’s cracked, nobody’ll notice." Tasting impressions was good: "It’s a good chocolatey cake, and the walnuts definitely add a little something. I like that they’re finely ground, so they add flavour, but no nut texture spoiling the nice soft cake."

Our FEATURED BAKER, ECL, made the most perfect Bernachon. She had been preparing for this cake all summer, anticipating it so by freezing a bunch of red currants. Her thinking-ahead paid off, the cake looks just like the photo on the cover of the book! Even though she doesn't use the edible gold freckles, the shiny glaze reflecting the light coming through the window looks shimmery enough that to me it might as well have been the edible gold. ECL had a lot of fun photographing the cake. As it gets dark around 4 PM in Portland, it provides for an interesting setting for photography. As for the taste, ECL wrote: "This is a wonderfully decadent cake. The cake itself melts in your mouth it is so tender, and the rich ganache and bittersweet ganache are excellent components. I think I will need a little vanilla ice cream and a cup of tea to accompany my slice of cake, which is never a bad idea. I like that it is pretty easy to put together and yet is a show-stopper of a dessert."

Our last cake, the FREE CHOICE Wedding Cake, is slotted for the weekend of Dec 3rd, in 1 1/2 weeks. You can bake anything from the wedding cake section of the book in any format. This means 9 inch, 6 inch, cupcake form, anything. I'm saying this because like me, you might not want to or have a gazillion people to feed.

And finally, Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it. Enjoy the long weekend with your loved ones and please please eat a lot of desserts :).

WIP Wednesday 1: Idlewood

This is my 1st WIP Wednesday and I am hoping it would the first of many.

I started a sweater 4 days ago. It's called Idlewood over at Ravelry. I was attracted to it because of the huge cuddly-looking cowl. The sweater uses 850 yards for the small size, and I happen to have 4 skeins of Cascade 220 Heathers yarn in this beautiful cranberry pink color.

So far I've finished the cowl, using size 10.5 needle. Switched to size 10 needle for the decreasing for the body/neck but it is looking weird. The stitches are too sparse from one another. So I'm thinking it is because my needle is too long (29 inches) for this decrease part so the stitches get stretched out. Kinda weird that the pattern does not specify to switch to a shorter needle so maybe my theory is wrong.

But at this point I think I will get a shorter 10 inch needle and try to knit the decrease part with it.

Please check out Tami Ami's blog for more awesome WIP's.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Eggplant Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses

I made this dish last month but never blogged about it.

It was one of those "I don't know what to cook moments." None of the cookbooks that I have appeal to me, so I turned to the websphere.

One of the sites I went to is Elise's Simply Recipes. I used to go there more often, back when I was eating meat.

This time, I looked for non meat dishes.

I found this eggplant lentil stew. It looks good and it sounded good. And it jives with my goal to try to like lentils.

Nothing against lentils but it has no taste.

Which is not a valid argument against lentils on my part because I love rice.

Reading up on the recipe for this lentil stew, it sounded good because all the ingredients in there are flavorful and would make lentils not bland.

And boy was it not bland.

The recipe calls for 2 Anaheim peppers. At the grocery store, I saw a basket of green peppers without any sign in front of them (no they were not green bell peppers, :)). I asked the store attendant and he said they were Anaheim. I bought 1 of them and used it all. After all, the recipe called for 2 so 1 would be safe.

Or so I thought....

The stew was SPICY!!! We had a stomach ache after we ate it the 1st time.

Luckily, our stomach settled and we were able to finish the rest of the stew with no problem.

Well, my mouth burned a little but that's okay.

And I found out later on, after some research on the internet, that those were Poblanos. Which technically was on the same hotness scale with Anaheim, which are not supposed to be very hot. So either we unluckily got a hot Poblano. Or, we need to train our spicy-ness resistance!

Recipe: Eggplant Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses

Sunday, November 20, 2011

HCB: Bernachon Palet D'Or Gateau

This is 1/2 recipe of the Bernachon, baked in a 6 inch pan. Usually when I make 1/2 recipe I like to use the 7 inch pan but this time I want a tall cake.

The cake component is similar to several other chocolate cakes from the book. I love cakes with sour cream and this one is no exception. Mix sour cream, cocoa, vanilla with a whisk until it's pudding like. Mix all the dry ingredients in the mixer, add the butter and 1/2 the cocoa mixture. Mix for 1 1/2 minute. Add the rest of the cocoa mixture.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Snap Thursday: Cowl

Happy "almost" Friday everyone!

I have been so lazy with the blog post lately and that is because I've been busy with my other hobby: knitting. Here is a photo of my latest finished project.

I love this cowl! I have been wearing it every day. It is very soft and it keeps me warm.

The pattern is Purl Ridge Scarf from Ravelry . The yarn is madelinetosh tosh vintage. I used about 1.3 skeins of it.

To join Snap Thursday: Post your photograph on your blog on Thursdays and leave your link in the comment section of my Snap Thursday post. Please also link back to my site. Click here to get your widget.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Last Cake, Next Cake

Jane started the Chocolate Tweed Angel Food Cake while her roommate was still sleeping, which means she grated the chocolate by hand. "It probably took me about 20 minutes to get all 56 grams of chocolate.  My arm was killing me." A full recipe of this cake used 13 extra large eggs. Not wanting to waste the egg yolks, Jane made pasta for lunch. Fort he frosting, Jane combined whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and almonds. The result: "the icing tasted like cookies and cream ice cream which everyone seemed to enjoy. But as delicious as the icing was, I felt that the cake could have had more vanilla in it or something else because it didn't have a distinct flavor."

Melissa began her post by talking about fete season. I was confused about what fete is but reading her description and the fact that it's summer in Australia, I think it's the equivalent of fairs and farmer's market in the US. Melissa's gingerbread cake has a dip in the middle, which bothered her terribly because well, the cake's appearance just does not look appetizing. "It's really hard for a drab, brown, un-iced cake to compete with the glamorous girls of chocolate icing, sprinkles, cream cheese icing, banana cakes, marble cakes, chocolate cakes with chocolate icing, vanilla cakes with chocolate icing. You get the picture." The appearance is the only thing she didn't love about this cake though. "It has a remarkably balanced set of flavours. The sweetness of the sugar is balanced with the spicy tang of the other ingredients."

We have a new member this week: Colleen. Colleen hails from Santa Cruz, California who married a guy from Punjabi, India. She just bought a copy of Rose's Heavenly Cakes and discovered our group. It is sad that she just stumbled upon us now but we are very happy to have her for the last few cakes! Colleen happily made English Gingerbread Cake for this week's assignment, as she called it. Unfortunately her 1st baking adventure from RHC did not turn out as planned. The cake collapsed in the oven and came out looking like "a flat sticky disk somewhat between bread pudding and undercooked brownies." As she watched the cake collapsed, her husband noticed the eggs sitting on the counter. Eggs that were supposed to be in the cake. "Mystery solved!" This is why the cake collapsed! Though it looked "horrible, heavy, and quite gooey," it tasted delicious. Please join me in welcoming Colleen to our little club!!!

Our FEATURED BAKER this week, Mendy, made the White Gold Passion Genoise using Mango, renaming the cake to Golden (Mango) Genoise. He doubled the recipe for the genoise but only made 1 recipe of the buttercream. "Rose's buttercream recipes in this book are always enough for two layers." He made his own "fab" mango curd from Dole's frozen mango.Mendy found a mistake in the recipe for the buttercream section. "The recipe calls for 6 oz of cream cheese which should be 170g. However, 6 ounces was only 123g and the 170g was for the full 8oz package! I know it is not a big mistake but I feel pretty good for having spotted it! :)" Mendy, you should be proud! No one has else noticed this error.

Next week we have the Bernachon Pale 'd'Or Gateau on page 109 of the book. I would really like to know how to pronounce this cake. I've been calling it "bernachon" and even so I'm sure I'm pronouncing it wrong. It is not a complicated cake but it does have 3 components to it. There's the cake, the creme fraiche ganache, and the lacquer glaze. The cake uses some sour cream and if you do not want to have to buy both creme fraiche and sour cream, Rose gives an alternative of using sour cream for the ganache. On the cover of the book this cake is adorned with edible gold flakes and currants. If you don't want to use either one, you can follow Marie's footsteps and use other fruits.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

A couple of weekends ago, I woke up to a craving of sweet bread. Leafing through Rose Levy Beranbaum's Bread Bible, I saw a recipe that looks good: Cinnamon Raisin Bread.

As with most bread recipes that I found, it requires the dough to be refrigerated overnight. I don't have time for that, so I cheated and did everything in 1 day.

First, combining the dry ingredients and added honey to it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

HCB: English Gingerbread Cake

I was looking forward to this cake. I've never had proper gingerbread before (since it's English, it must be proper, no? :)). I'm also looking forward to the opportunity to use my stash of golden syrup that I purchased from Amazon.

The cake is also very easy to make. I'm really liking all the easy cakes at the end of this bake through. It helps me mentally because now I'm thinking, "okay yeah, after this easy one, I have x number left. YEAH!! (raising fists up in the air)."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Snap Thursday: Sunset or Sunrise?

Sunset or sunrise? Can you guess?

I will post the answer in the comment section in a few days :).

To join Snap Thursday: Post your photograph on your blog on Thursdays and leave your link in the comment section of my Snap Thursday post. Please also link back to my site. Click here to get your widget.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Last Cake, Next Cake

Melissa's family are big fans of cheesecakes and pumpkins, so this cake was a hit. " This is a delicious cheesecake!" This cake, not only good, but rated easy on Melissa's cake scale. So easy that it's calling her: "Make me again, again." As have been mentioned before, Melissa really love to be part of this bake-a-long, though at times it's hard since she's in the middle of house and kitchen remodel. " I've really loved it and at times it helped keep me sane. I have loved focusing on something creative and delicious and sharing it with my family, friends and with you all. I have loved being part of something across the world, but shared. I've loved all the baking skills I've developed and (sheepish) I've acquired a number of fantastic new cake pans (gotta love that!)."

Jane, having made the Pumpkin Cheesecake, baked 3 cakes this past week: Barcelona Brownie Bars, Baby Chocolate Oblivion, and Pumpkin Cake with Burnt Orange Buttercream. The Barcelona Brownie Bars were posted in video form. I have not had a chance to check it out but I will. As for the other cakes, the Baby Chocolate Oblivion, while looked easy, turned out to be an adventure with water baths and cupcake pans. For the Pumpkin Cake, Jane went all out with pumpkin pan, green leaves and brown vines made with gumpaste. The end product was beautiful, with a picture of her happily holding the cake!

Monday, November 7, 2011

HCB: Pumpkin Cheesecake

I am slacking. Slacking.

Sorry about missing the LC NC last week. Every time I started writing, something come up and by the weekend I threw in the towel. So there.

I will be more in line in the future. Promise.

This Pumpkin Cheesecake is one of those desserts that surprised me. I was dreading making it. Not a big fan of pumpkin and cheesecake. The combo just sounds ugh!

But it's the last cake I have from the cheesecake chapter, so I was a little excited to make it because of that.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Snap Thursday: Snowy cabin

Less than a week after I took the fall color photos, it snowed!

It's the wet kind of snow that is so beautiful because it stayed on the trees. This is a picture of someone's house in the city. I love it because it totally looked like it's a cabin in the mountains.

To join Snap Thursday: Post your photograph on your blog on Thursdays and leave your link in the comment section of my Snap Thursday post. Please also link back to my site. Click here to get your widget.