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Lemony Shortbread

You guys know of our dear friends, Paul & T, they summer in Wisconsin and winter in Arizona. This year, they decided to sell their Wisconsin home and move permanently to Arizona. They were kind enough to invite us to the Lake House one last time. Because they are imminently selling their home in Wisconsin, we were not able to bring lasting gifts because their trip home to Arizona will be packed solid with whatever they move from their home in Wisconsin. Food is always a good bet with them, so I’ve been experimenting with recipes and this one, I must say is a winner. Don’t skip the drizzle, it just makes it OTT lemony. You have to love lemons to make this tasty treat, or at least, have someone that does. It probably works with lime too, although I haven’t tried it.

I used this recipe as my starting point, I just loved how they looked, with the drizzle and all. Plus, it sounded like they were really lemony, but I wanted to up the ante so I also added a splash of lemon extract as well as lemon zest to the cookie dough. BANG!

Buttery, melt in your mouth lemon shortbread that has balanced sweetness.

Lemony Shortbread Cookies

Makes 54 cookies, about 3 cm x 3 cm

For the original recipe, kindly click here.

To print this recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 227 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 86 g powdered sugar
  • 5 mL vanilla extract
  • 5 mL lemon extract
  • 5 g lemon zest
  • 240 g AP unbleached flour
  • 56 g cornstarch
  • 2.5 mL salt

Ingredients for the drizzle:

  • 80 g confectioner’s sugar
  • 15 mL fresh lemon juice
  • 5 mL lemon zest
  • water (to thin, if needed)

Directions:

  1. Combine the butter and confectioner’s sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, lemon extracts and lemon zest.
  2. Sift the flour, cornstarch and salt into the butter and mix until a smooth dough is formed. It will take about 1.5-2 minutes.
  3. Between two pieces of parchment, roll out the dough to a 33 cm x 23 cm rectangle and cut into little squares (I did 3 cm x 3 cm), refrigerate cookies on the cookie sheet for 30 minutes. They don’t spread much, so you needn’t leave more than 1 cm between each cookie.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Bake for 15-20 minutes, you don’t want them too golden because these are pretty if pale white.
  5. For the drizzle, mix the confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice and zest in a food processor and process until smooth and drizzle-able. If necessary, add water.
  6. Allow the cookies to cool completely before drizzling with the lemony mixture.
  7. Allow the drizzle to set at room temperature before stacking the cookies.

Notes:

  • I baked these on a super hot day, not sure why my version took so much longer than the original recipe.
  • I found the original drizzle recipe made way too much drizzle, it has a good lemon flavour and is intended to enhance the shortbread, not overwhelm it so I reduced the quantities by half.

Turkey Gyoza

One of the main differences between blog food and food styled food is that blog food is edible. You wouldn’t want to eat food styled food because it’s likely sat on set for hours and at the least been handled to death or at the very worst, there have been additions which make the food last longer on set! Meat is regularly oiled up to look juicy, sauces and stews get a dash of white corn syrup to look glossy and delicious, etc. The gummy-bear pancakes on my website were generously coated with silicon spray so they wouldn’t absorb the syrup too readily! Wraps are most often superglued together, and their stuffing is generally only 1/3 deep (the rest is crumpled up paper towel!). Coffee, tea or bevy’s in general are usually not even real, kitchen bouquet parades as a variety of liquids! So there is a HUGE difference between blog food (which we usually eat, moments after it’s shot) and food styled food! But you needn’t worry about these gyozas, not only are they pretty enough to eat, they were eagerly consumed directly after the shoot, and they were so yummy!

Turkey Gyoza

For original gyoza wrapper recipe, please click here.

Makes 24 gyoza

Ingredients:

  • 120 g AP unbleached flour
  • 67 mL water, boiling
  • pinch of salt
  • cornstarch for dusting
  • 150 g lean ground turkey
  • 5 mL sesame oil
  • 40 g shallots (1 large)
  • 3 g garlic scapes, finely minced
  • 10 g ginger, finely grated
  • 15 g carrot, finely grated
  • 15 mL soy sauce
  • 3 g coconut sugar
  • Butter or grapeseed oil to brown gyoza

Directions:

  1. Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Add boiling water to the flour and salt mixture slowly to make a dough, turn out to a surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth. Cut dough into two and roll into a sausage-like roll. Wrap in plastic and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the sesame oil in a pan and sweat out the onions, add the scapes and cook for a minute. Add the ground turkey and cook through. Stir in the ginger, carrot, soy sauce and coconut sugar and cook for a minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool thoroughly.
  3. To make the wrappers, roll each sausage out to a manageable thickness and run it through the KitchenAid pasta roller from #1 to #5.
  4. Cut into 7.5 cm (3 inch) rounds. Wet the edges of each round, spoon 5 mL (1 tsp) of meat filling into the centre and fold in half and seal the edges. I used a handy pleater like this one to get perfect pleats.
  5. Steam each one for 3-5 minutes. When cooked, melt butter or grapeseed oil in a cast iron pan. Pan fry each one on one side only so it is golden and crispy. Serve with your choice of dipping sauce.
  6. Freeze uncooked gyoza on a piece of parchment and once frozen add to a ziplock bag for future use. Frozen gyoza will cook in 3-5 minutes!

One side is crunchy while the other side is soft. They are sooo good!

Lime and Matcha Cheesecake

You may recall that last week I posted a recipe for homemade ricotta from buttermilk and sour cream, well this is what the ricotta became and it was delicious! It was a cake I made for our dear friends Rae and Mon when they invited us for dinner one night in June. Check out the notes, I give some very good tips on how to bake a cheesecake without it cracking!

Lime and Matcha Cheesecake

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes one 23 cm cheesecake

For the Crust:

  • 175 g graham cracker crumbs
  • 50 g butter, melted
  • 35 g coconut sugar
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 10 g unsweetened coconut
  • 1.5 g lime zest (about 1 lime)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Line the bottom of a 23 cm springform pan with parchment grease it well including the sides.
  3. Line the outside bottom of the pan with foil tightly. Cover the outside of another, slightly larger pan with foil so that it is water resistant.
  4. Combine all of the above crust ingredients and mix until well coated with the butter. This step may be done in a food processor.

Press into the prepared smaller pan and bake for 20 minutes. Cool completely.Decorate with lime zest, matcha powder, coconut and thinly sliced limes.

For the Cheesecake:

  • 150 g granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 300 g buttermilk, sour cream ricotta (recipe)
  • 120 g sour cream
  • 3 g lime zest (about 2 limes)
  • 50 mL lime juice (~2 limes)
  • 15 g AP flour (check weight)
  • 5 g matcha powder
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F.
  2. Beat the egg whites with 50 g of sugar until stiff shiny peaks form.
  3. Beat the egg yolks with 100 g of sugar until they are thick and pale.
  4. Add the ricotta and greek yogurt to the egg yolk mixture and then add the lime juice and zest and beat until well blended.
  5. Sift the flour and matcha powder into ricotta mixture.
  6. Finally, fold the beaten egg whites into the ricotta mixture until well blended. Spoon into the chilled prepared crust.
  7. Set the pan into the slightly larger pan with the bottom covered in foil, and set both into a tall-sided roasting pan and pour just hot water into the roasting pan so it goes about half-way up the sides.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the centre doesn’t jiggle when gently shaken. Turn the oven off, allow to cool in the oven undisturbed. Once cool, refrigerate until ready to serve.
  9. Decorate with lime zest and matcha. Serve with lime infused whipping cream or with blueberries.

A deliciously flavoured, baked cheesecake.

Notes:

  • I always beat my egg whites first so that I don’t need to wash my mixer whisk attachment.
  • To prevent cracking while baking and cooling:
    • Set the 23 cm springform pan into a slightly larger, springform pan with the bottom covered tightly with foil to double ensure water-tightness and insulate the sides so that the outside bakes at the same rate as the inside.
    • Set both pans into a high-sided roasting pan.
    • Fill the roasting pan (not the larger springform pan) with hot water to about the middle height of the springform pans.
  • Step 3 and 4 may be done in a large food processor, which will result in a smooth cheesecake, otherwise, the ricotta curds will add some texture to the cake.

In my line of work you inevitably garner leftover ingredients that no one else wants that are not standard fare in your pantry. This recipe is one of those happy examples. As you well know, I abhor tossing food so I searched the net for a tasty way to use said ingredients, whole milk, buttermilk and sour cream and found that you can make ricotta! How exciting is that? We were invited to dear friends for dinner, so I made a delicious cheesecake out of the ricotta (recipe to come next week).

Buttermilk and Sour Cream Ricotta

Makes 235 g Ricotta

Ingredients:

  • 500 mL whole milk
  • 500 mL buttermilk
  • 200 mL full fat sour cream

Directions:

  1. Heat the milk, buttermilk and sour cream over a medium heat in an enamel pot to about 82° C (180° F). Allow it to sit, undisturbed for 30 minutes.
  2. Pour into a cheesecloth-lined sieve and strain (covered) until relatively dry (overnight) in the refrigerator.

I would have thought the buttermilk and sour cream would have made a much tarter ricotta but it was fine.

Make additional ricotta out of the whey:

Makes an additional 65 g ricotta!

Ingredients:

  • 750 mL leftover whey from making ricotta above
  • 250 mL milk (higher fat is better, I used 1% because that is what I had)
  • 15 mL vinegar or lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Heat the whey and milk in a non-reactive pan over medium heat until it reaches 91° C (195° F). Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar or lemon juice. Allow it to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes.
  2. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve. Strain for several hours for a firm ricotta.

Notes:

  • Use an unreactive pot like Le Creuset.
  • I did not salt the ricotta because I had a sweet application planned for it.
  • The buttermilk and sour cream curdle naturally when heated, so an acid is not required.
  • Reserve the whey for recipes that call for cooking with stock or water, it is healthy and flavourful.

Dear friends, I have finally made a website of my work. Please feel free to visit evataylorfoodstyle.com. The blog will not change, it will always be my ever growing recipe book, the website is for work. If you know of anyone needing a food stylist in Toronto, please send them to my website. As always, your comments are appreciated more than you can know.

It’s not often you will see a ‘fast food’ establishment reviewed on this blog, but this time I had to do it. My first experience at Mi’Hito Sushi Laboratory was with a dear friend and long ago tenant, Lower Level Leanne. We needed a quick and healthy bite after we shopped at Tap Phong (my favourite restaurant supply store). She ordered the Rising Sun Sushi Burrito which was filled with raw salmon, lettuce, cabbage, avocado, tempura crunch, tobiko, carrot, crab meat, green onions, spicy mayo dressing ($11.99) and I had the Ahi Tuna Poké Bowl which had raw tuna, spinach, cabbage, carrots, edamame, crab meat, mandarin orange ($12.99). Although my poké was good, both she and I were blown away with her burrito, made with seaweed instead of a wrap! And it was HUGE. So I knew, the next time we were downtown and needed lunch, Mi’Hito would be our stop!

JT and I were touring downtown for Doors Open 2018 way back in May (scroll down to see some of our pics of Our Adventure) and fortunately, we were close enough to Mi’Hito to make a lunch stop (OK, full disclosure, I planned our route to end close to it!) This time JT and I shared a custom Sushi Burrito, made with raw tuna, avocado, lettuce, seaweed slaw, corn, sesame seeds and cucumbers ($15.99), it was awesome, fresh and totally filling. And their wasabi (in a little packet like soy sauce) was the hottest I have EVER had! The burrito comes in a really cute paper cutaway container, which is great for takeout, but a little overkill when eating in.

The food is served on little aluminium trays with small packets of soy and wasabi. The restaurant itself is fast food, no table service. It is brightly lit, with several large back-lit menu boards hanging behind the counters and a TV in the seating area. You can order off the menu or chose a custom bowl, burrito or taco. They also have sushi, but the burritos are so much more interesting!

I will definitely keep this place on my radar when I’m downtown.

This is half of the burrito. It is about 8 cm (3 inches) in diameter and about 22 cm (9 inches) long (full burrito). There are no vacant holes in this puppy, it is CHUCK FULL!

Here are some of the photos from Doors Open 2018. We visited several sites over two days but these were the most memorable pics. We have lived near Colborne Lodge for 17 years and have never toured through the house. You can read about the house and its history here. The Masonic Temple is special to me because my parents’ Puppet company performed for a CBC Children’s Christmas Party in the 1970’s. The graffiti pics are from our esteemed College of Art. There was graffiti all over the inside of the building, it was rather shameful. Plus, it wasn’t all that great for an art college!!!

Sweet Potato Buns

From the recipes on this blog, you would think that we eat a lot of bread, the reality is that we do not, I make bread when we entertain, but I do love making bread. I was drawn to this recipe from my friend, A Boleyn’s blog, Cooking is fun. She made the most beautiful buns I have seen in some time. They were golden, perfectly round, fluffy and very soft looking AND they had an unusual ingredient: Sweet Potato! This bread’s texture reminded me of Hokkaido milk bread, which I have been meaning to try my hand at, it has a simple roux “starter” technique known as tangzhong that gives it a light, fluffy texture. While this recipe isn’t Hokkaido milk bread, its finished texture reminded me of the technique, plus there is a bit of a starter with flour, water and yeast.

The buns did not disappoint; this recipe will definitely make my go-to bread recipe repertoire, to be honest, I’ve made three batches by the time this post goes live!

This is a soft, slightly sweet and quite addictive bun.

Sweet Potato Buns

Recipe makes 16 buns, about 60 g each (unbaked)

For the original recipe please click here.

To print this recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 454 g sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 65 g all-purpose flour
  • 125 mL warm water
  • 8 g quick rising yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • 45 mL unsalted butter, melted
  • 10 mL honey
  • 7 g sea salt, finely ground
  • 240 g bread flour, or more as needed

Egg wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, or to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook sweet potato in salted water, until soft. Strain well (reserve cooking liquid for the yeast) and mash with a fork or potato masher; measure out 260 g and allow to cool completely. Reserve leftovers for another use (like gnocchi).
  2. In another bowl, mix together 65 g flour, warm water (cooking liquid) and yeast, and whisk until smooth.
  3. When yeast is frothy (about 10 minutes), pour it into the large bowl of your stand mixer, add the mashed sweet potato, one egg, melted butter, honey, sea salt and about 210 g of flour. Mix well using the dough hook attachment and knead for 2 to 4 minutes (I needed 4 minutes). If the dough is too sticky (mine was OK the first time but subsequent times it was too wet), add the remaining 30 g (or more) of flour and knead until the dough is soft, elastic and shiny (about 2 minutes).
  4. Turn the dough out into a well-oil the bowl and cover. Allow to rise until double in size (about 1 hour), I did this in an unheated oven.
  5. After it has doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press out the air bubbles. Using your fingers, press the dough into a rectangle about 2 cm thick. Divide the dough into 16 equal portions (about 60 g each) and roll into a smooth ball. Allow to rest for 45 minutes on a covered baking sheet.
  6. Preheat your oven to 400° F. Combine the remaining egg, water and mix well. Brush each bun with the egg mixture and sprinkle each with sesame seeds.
  7. Bake in a hot oven until golden or when the internal temperature is 200° F (about 15 minutes).

Notes:

  • I used bread flour because I did not have enough All-Purpose flour. I have since made it with all purpose flour and it was equally as delicious.
  • I have made this recipe three times, the last time the dough was much too wet so I had to add more than the 30 g of flour (probably closer to 80 g).
  • Use some of the water you used to boil the sweet potatoes for the yeast because it has flavour and nutrients.
  • The 454-ish gram sweet potato yielded about 330 g. The leftover 70 g of the sweet potato will make a generous amount of gnocchi.
  • The 70 g of sweet potato leftover was mixed with the remaining egg (after I egg washed all the rolls) and enough flour to make a gnocchi dough and some grated Parmesan Cheese. I freeze uncooked gnocchi on parchment on a cookie sheet and then pop them into a ziplock baggy. I got enough gnocchi for about three smallish servings.

The gnocchi made an excellent lunch with a blue cheese cream sauce.

Spring Green Gazpacho

As you know, my friend, David Chrighton (Fine Dining at Home) was on Master Chef UK last fall (I know, sooooo cool). He went all the way to the finals! Sadly, he didn’t win the title, but OMG, he went ALL THE WAY to the finals! David is a Captain for an airline and flies commercial jets. I can certainly see how nerve wracking Master Chef can be, and that’s where his pilot nerves of steel came into play! Not that he wasn’t a wee bit nervous (we did spot a few beads of sweat on his brow) but he never wavered, not even when he was cooking a Michelin Star Chef’s recipe! Ashley Palmer-Watt, head chef of Fat Duck, three-star-Michelin resto in Bray, was a guest on the show on Episode 24. Each participant had 5 hours (5 HOURS!) to complete one of Chef Ashley’s famous recipes. David lucked out and got one the most complicated recipes with 120 stages of preparation! Now THAT is stressful!

Now don’t get into a tizzy that I will post one of these complicated recipes, no sirree, I don’t have the the patience, but one of the positive windfalls of being a runner-up on Masterchef UK, is that Dave is now a celebrity chef! He is still a pilot but he also does pop-up restaurants and demonstrations at fairs and markets! During one such pop-up, he posted an awesome looking white gazpacho and since we were having a heat wave, I knew I had to recreate it for a dinner party. Dave didn’t post the recipe so I improvised; my version was a light green so I called it Spring Green Gazpacho!

The recipe is rich in flavour but not heavy. A variety of complex flavours coat the mouth and speaking of mouth, it has an incredibly smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Thank you, Dave, for the inspiration. By the way, Dave totally rocked that complicated recipe for Chef Ashley.

Spring Green Gazpacho

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 600 mL

To print recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 175 g cucumber, roughly chopped
  • 150 g grilled corned, removed from cob
  • 100 g avocado, peeled and chopped
  • 125 mL milk (avocado gives the fat, so feel free to use a low fat milk)
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 3 g fresh basil leaves
  • 100 g Greek yogurt
  • 20 g toasted almond flour
  • salt, to taste
  • Cubed cucumber, grilled corn, pomegranate arils, chiffonade of fresh basil as garnish

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Press through a fine sieve. Store in the refrigerator for maximum 4 days.
  3. Serve chilled with a garnish of chopped cucumbers, fresh basil and grilled corn and pomegranate arils.

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