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Archive for December, 2012

I’m sure I’m not the only one. In fact, I’ve seen it many times on-line, mainly when I’ve been sulking around the net after hours. I even know of a few professional photographers guilty of it, but not during work hours. It really snuck up on me quite innocently. I uploaded it on my iPhone after I saw someone using it on Facebook. I thought, WHAT? How could that be? I was sure you could only achieve that look professionally. That is, what I mean to say, is that only a professional could achieve that look. But there it is on Facebook, and it’s more than just professionals doing it.

Of course, I am referring to Instagram, that incredible quirky photo app that can take photo, apply an effect and store it on various platforms. But if you’re sneaky like me, you might even use that shot for your blog. There I said it, yes, I have been guilty of using this app on my iPhone for some of my blog photos. And have received some very lovely compliments on some of those shots. Not that I’m saying I don’t like to use my lovely Canon Rebel, but it is a pain to get it all set up with the tripod and setting the aperture, blah, blah, blah…when all I have to do is reach over and shoot. Yep, that’s all I do. Sometimes I don’t even bother with lighting (the Naan shots, the Chicken Soup Shots to name a couple). Until now. Instagram was acquired by Facebook last April, and you know that can only mean trouble, with a capital T. So December 18 they posted an updated to their privacy policy which basically said that any photo posted on Instagram (and there is no other way to use it) belongs to them and they can sell it. REALLY? Sell. my. own. photos? I think not. But then later that same day, after a lot, and I mean A LOT of backlash they backtracked and took it all back. But it’s only a matter of time and frankly, I’m not sticking around for it. So I found a great app called Camera Awesome, it’s free and they won’t steal your photos — yet anyway, and it has A LOT more features than Instagram. Given, some of these features are for purchase, but they are only 99¢ so they are not bank breaking. The best features are the selected focus and exposure that operate independently to each other (unlike the iPhone camera). Also, it has some really cool features to change the sharpness, vibrance, temperature and contrast, so you don’t need to export and open in Photoshop. I also found an app that can super impose text over the existing photo, so I can copyright it direct from my iPhone. I’ll never have to fire up the iMac again. So now you know my dirty little secret, I hope I can trust you not to tell. 😉

Do you sometimes cheat and use your iPhone for the shot, and if so, what apps do you use to help you make them stand out?

My friend, boss, neighbour Kim and I exchange a small token gift every year and this year she got me something I had my eye on from over at Angie’s lovely blog, this beautiful cookie stamp! I couldn’t believe it, I was very excited to give it a go.

This stamp makes a lovely cookie

This stamp makes a lovely cookie. iPhone Photo.

I made the recipe that came with the stamp. Big mistake. It was way too buttery and the indentations all but melted into a flat, round cookie. I was disheartened. But then I remembered I had a batch of chocolate marshmallow fondant left over from cake pops I made a previous week, so I had an idea! The cookies had good texture and great flavour, you just couldn’t make out the stamp, so I rolled out the fondant to about 1 mm thick and pressed the stamp into it, cut it with a similarly sized cookie cutter and applied it to each cookie after it had cooled completely. SUCCESS! I’m tempted to make another batch because this one might have been sampled over.

So if you want to make cookies like this, just bake up a batch of your favourite shortbread or sugar cookies. You can buy the stamp at Chapters or Indigo or on line. The fondant is a very easy recipe from my dear friend Sawsan’s blog, Chef in Disguise. I simply added about 1/2 cup of sifted unsweetened cocoa powder to the finished fondant and kneaded it well to distribute evenly. It was very easy and very tasty!

They chocolate fondant covered cookies turned out better than expected.

They chocolate fondant covered cookies turned out better than expected. Instagram photo on my iPhone

Or you can head over to Ilan’s blog and bake up this recipe; Ilan is an amazing baker and blogger. Just make sure you leave out the leavening as he suggests so that your formed cookie doesn’t lose it’s shape.

A nice, old fashioned gingerbread cookie. And there is no question that they are 'Home Made'

A nice, old fashioned gingerbread cookie. And there is no question that they are ‘Home Made’. Camera Awesome Photo on my iPhone but I hadn’t figured out how to select focus with it yet!

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I’d like to apologize, this post was so unprofessional; when I left it last night, everything was done and it was timed to release this morning, as all my posts do. But for some reason, while eating my grapefruit and blueberries this morning, I decided to check it again on my phone and discovered a small typo at the beginning of the post, so I fixed it; unbenounced to me, I hadn’t refreshed the post on the phone to sync with the server, so what I actually did was update an older post, thereby overriding the actual post. ARGHHHHHHH! When I finally saw Norma‘s tongue in cheek comment later that morning, I realized my extreme faux pas. That’s what I get for using multiple devices to update my blog. I shall be ever more careful in the future, thanks Norma for calling me out. My punishment (well, other than mortal embarrassment), is to have to retype the entire post with the exception of the intro below. Now I’ll go stand in the corner.

I know there are many of you who, how shall I say this delicately, can’t stand to be in the same room as coconut, but here chez kitcheninspirations we love the stuff; the taste, texture, colour, aroma (makes me think of a beach vacation), we LOVE it! So this will not be the last coconutty thing we make, and unfortunately, you won’t be able to leave it out as it’s such an integral part of the recipe. So fasten your seat belts and prepare yourself for a chewy, lemony treat!

Chewy Lemon Squares

Chewy and lemony, I've never made this one with frosting and we have never missed it

Chewy and lemony, I’ve never made this one with frosting and we have never missed it

From Company’s Coming Squares by Jean Pare.

Makes 1 pan 9″ x 9″

First Layer Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c all purpose flour
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c butter

First Layer Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Crumble flour, sugar and butter until mealy (you can save time and pulse this in a food processor, metal; blades)
  3. Press into ungreased 9×9 inch pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

Second Layer Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups flaked, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon essence

Second Layer Directions:

  1. Beat eggs slightly. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Spread over shortbread base. Bake at 350°F for additional 30 minutes, until set in the centre and golden in colour.
  3. Cool and cut into squares, or bars.

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I got off to a slow start this year due mainly to the fact that my cold just didn’t want to give up, even though I was doing everything right, like my Chicken Soup, Kelly’s delicious alcohol free Hot Toddy and lots of ginger tea with honey. And I still have a slightly lower octave voice but I’m feeling a lot better!

My Hungarian blogging buddy Zsuzsa suggested I post a list of my baking again this year, so here you go, my friend! I will also snap a few photos and post recipes in the days to come. Previously posted recipes are linked back, unless the photos were gross, in which case, I redid them and posted them again with a little twist!

Here is this 2012’s round up:

Now I bet you’re wondering where on earth did I get this gorgeous cookie mold; my dear friend Barb of Profiteroles and Ponytails was lovely to give it to me as a gift last June (shame on me for taking six months to make these gorgeous cookies with them). I know some of the bloggers (Betsy’s recipe, Sawsan’s recipe to name a couple) I follow have posted some very tantalizing recipes for ma’amouls, but I lacked their ingredients so I needed to find a recipe for which I had everything in my pantry. Plus these shortbread cookies have a lot, and I mean a lot of fat in them, so I searched and searched for a slightly lighter version. I made Bethany’s recipe with minor alterations and I also halved the quantity not knowing if we would love them. The dough is melt in your mouth shortbread dough, but it’s also a bit crumbly. The filling is lovely with the right amount of spice; before you jump to conclusions about the powdered sugar, I read somewhere that the date filled cookie is never sprinkled with powdered sugar . I will make these again, and I you’ll see how I’ve changed them up.

Ma’amouls

Please click here for original recipe, Bethany gives some great instructions.

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Apparently the traditional ma’amoules are not dusted with powdered sugar.

Dough Ingredients:

  • 425 g semolina
  • 100 g potato starch
  • 225 g of butter, melted
  • 125 mL orange blossom water (I substituted water with a few drops of orange essence)
  • 100 g of caster sugar
  • 1 tsp ground green cardamom
  • 1 ma’amoul mold

Date Filling Ingredients:

  • 125 g dates, pitted
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 25 g of almond flour
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I was lucky that mine did not crack. Picture perfect.

Directions:

  1. Combine the semolina, farina, cardamom, sugar and butter together.
  2. Slowly add the orange water a tablespoon at a time, kneading it into a soft sticky dough (it shouldn’t stick to your fingers). Cover the dough and let it sit 2 hours.
  3. Prepare the filling while the dough rests. Add all the ingredients to a food processor container and process until smooth
  4. After it has rested, knead dough one more time and then divide into two or three even balls. Roll out each ball into a rope with a thickness of 2.5 to 3 cm. Cut to about 2.5-3 cm and roll into a ball.
  5. Flatten the dough using the palm of your hand on the counter and spoon a small size ball of filling into the centre. Lift up all sides and form into a nice round ball. It was suggested to roll this in some additional semolina before you press it into the mold, but it was greasy enough and the mold released it quite quickly.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven 200° C / 400° F until the sides are slightly brown in color. It will vary depending on oven — I baked mine for 20 minutes. Cool and serve.

No one will kick you out of bed for leaving crumbs!

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So tragic

In light of the tragedy in Connecticut, Kitcheninspirations is not posting today. My heartfelt condolences go to the families.

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Indian Dinner Party: Naan

Revised April 23, 2018, added weight measurements.

I have searched high and low for a good Naan recipe and much to my chagrin, I have never found one that was quite what I was looking for. I thought I had found them on occasion, but not quite. That is, until now. I found the Evil Shananigans and it seems that the author Kelly was in the same spot I had been in for so many years. Thank goodness that Kelly did all the work and came up with this fabulous recipe. The only thing I did was reduce the quantity as I didn’t need quite as many and I added 1 level tablespoon of milk powder. Why milk powder you ask? I read somewhere that it adds to the elasticity of the dough and I wanted a chewy dough and it worked wonders! Quite possibly the best Naan ever, I kid you not.

I used an inverted cast iron dutch oven in my gas BBQ to try to replicate the tandoor oven, and by George, I think I got it! The baking method really allowed the dough to bake slowly over indirect heat, maintaining the elasticity and also allowing some parts to crisp up. Dare I say, genius? I hope you’ll bring me down to earth, so I don’t get too comfortable tooting my own horn, even if it is once in a while.

Chewy and crispy at the same time

Chewy and crispy at the same time

Naan

Makes 4 109 g servings

Ingredients:

  • 245 g (1 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 5 g (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 2 g (1/4 tsp) dry active yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk, heated to 110F
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) sugar
  • 5 g (1 tbsp) milk powder

Directions:

  1. Warm the milk to about 44° C or 110° F and dissolve the yeast and sugar. Allow to bubble up (about 5 minutes).
  2. Combine the flour, milk powder and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer and add the activated yeast. Kneed for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic (dough is rather tacky).
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for two hours in a warm place.
  4. Once rested, turn out the dough and divide into four equal portions (I measured mine to be about 109 g each). Make each portion into a ball and allow to rest 30 minutes.
  5. Roll out each ball into thin flat sheets (you’ll need a little flour so it doesn’t stick (15 cm x 30 cm) and then cover with a towel and allow to rest another 30 minutes. You can rub a little olive oil on top so it doesn’t dry out.
  6. Pre-heat your BBQ with an inverted cast iron dutch oven to the highest temperature. (I used an inverted cast pan to replicate the tandoor oven).
  7. One by one, drape each naan sheet over the ‘oven’ and bake until golden and slightly puffy (don’t worry, they will deflate).
  8. Keep warm in parchment wrapped in foil in an oven or serve immediately.
The most delicious naan yet

The most delicious naan yet

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There is another Indian Restaurant in Toronto that we really like, and you’ve probably heard of it because it’s in all the major cities around the world, it’s called Bombay Palace on Jarvis Street. We usually go there for lunch and there are two particular things I love, the carrot pickle and the Aloo Papri Chaat (described as a sweet Medley of crispy wafers chickpeas, potatoes with yogurt-mint chutney dressing). I tried to find as close a recipe as possible to this tangy, sweet and crunchy side, and this one was pretty darn close. I had to make a few changes due to unavailable ingredients, but to be honest, the flavour didn’t suffer for it. I must warn you, it does take a lot of steps.

Aloo Papri Chaat

A delicious mix of sweet and tangy flavours with the crunchy texture of the wafers

Serves 4-6 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Semolina flour
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 7-8 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 dried apricot
  • 1 small cooked potato, cubed
  • 100 g chick peas
  • 1/2 cup low fat yogurt (if using Greek yogurt, you will need to add milk to achieve the right consistency)
  • 1 chopped green chili
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chaat Masala (see spice mix below)
  • Salt
  • 1 cup peanut oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Make a soft dough with the flour and semolina by adding a little bit of water at a time.
  2. Roll the dough out into a rectangle and cut into bite-sized squares.
  3. Heat the oil to fry the squares and fry them until they puff a little and are golden. Drain oil off and set aside.

Directions for the Tamarind Chutney:

  1. In a small heavy bottom sauce pan, add the tamarind paste and the apricot. Add about 1 cup of hot water to it and heat to a boil until the tamarind paste dissolves and the apricot is mushy. Blend well with an immersion blender. Strain out any hard bits from the tamarind paste.
  2. Add the sugar, chili powder and mix well. Boil until all of the water evaporates and you are left with a thick rich paste.

Ingredients for the Chaat Masala:

Note: the original recipe for Chaat Masala called for Mango Powder which I did not have, and therefore I substituted the apricot into the tamarind mix to replicate the sweet and tangy flavour of the mango powder.

  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black salt

Directions for the Chaat Masala:

  1. Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. If some of the spices are seeds, you will need to grind them well.

Directions for the Yogurt Sauce and assembly:

  1. Whip the yogurt with a whisk until thin and runny (or if it’s Greek Yogurt, add a little milk),
  2. Add  the cubed potatoes, chopped green chili, the chickpeas and a teaspoon or two of the tamarind and mix well (being careful not to break up the potatoes).
  3. Add the bite sized Papri (wafers) and mix gently to coat.
  4. Garnish with Coriander leaves and finely chopped green onions.

A quick shot of the actual serving dish at the dinner party, the lighting sucks as it was already night

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I posted a quick picture of this recipe on Facebook and Pinterest and received overwhelming response so instead of putting it in-line with my Christmas 2012 baking, I thought I would interrupt regular programming and post the recipe today. I did a search and found that I might indeed be the first person to make these all-time Canadian favourites into a truffle instead of their normal bar form. Every year JT asks me to make this bar, which personally I find just too sweet. I got to thinking a smaller, bite sized version might be the answer I was looking for so I came up with this idea and only had to marginally modify an existing recipe. I hope you enjoy it. And if you make them, please do let me know how it worked out.

Almost as teeth tingly as the regular Nanaimo Bars

Not nearly as teeth tingly as regular Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Truffles

For the original recipe, please click here.

Makes about 36 truffles

Inside Layer Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla custard powder
  • 1 cup icing sugar

Inside Layer Directions:

  1. Cream butter, custard powder and icing sugar together well. Scoop out about 1 tsp and roll into a ball. Freeze for 30 minutes.

Second Layer Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ c graham wafer crumbs
  • ½ c finely ground almond flour
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup (spray your measuring cup with non-stick spray and it will slide right out)

Second Layer Directions:

  • Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat.
  • Stir in graham crumbs, coconut, almond flour and the corn syrup. Set aside.

Assembly Directions:

  1. Take about 1 packed tbsp of the second layer (crumb layer) in the palm of your hand and press to flatten to a large circle about 2mm thick.
  2. Put one custard ball into the centre and wrap the circle around the custard so that it totally covers it. Squeeze the crumb layer to form a tidy ball. Repeat until you have made all of the balls. Freeze for 30-60 minutes.

Chocolate Layer Ingredients:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter

Chocolate Layer Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate and butter over low heat and mix well. Without allowing the chocolate mixture to cool down, take a frozen ball and carefully stick a toothpick or skewer into it and dip into the melted chocolate to cover. Remove the stick and allow the chocolate to set on parchment paper (you could dip a finger into the chocolate to hide the hole, or not). The frozen balls will help set the chocolate faster. Store in refrigerator. Allow the balls to come back up to room temperature to serve.
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The centre is creamy and smooth which is a nice texture to the outside

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Yum.

;

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