Monthly Archives: June 2016

Cherry Puff Tarts

Cherry is another fruit that we love to eat in the summer. My parents used to have 2 giant cherries at their old house. I still remember my brother and I would pick as much as we could before the birds get to them. There would be so much cherries that we would fill almost every single basket and bucket in the house….Oh, how I miss those good times. ¬†My folks have moved and we no longer have our own cherry trees, but I can make these yummy tarts for them instead !
I always keep a box of puff pastry in the freezer. It’s really handy if you need to make something quick, both sweet and savory. I yet to try making my own puff pastry…. Well, it’s on my list! ūüôā

Makes about 10-12 tarts

  • 200 g pitted fresh cherries
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 box puff pastry (about 400 g)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • vanilla sugar¬†or granulated sugar for sprinkling
  • Icing sugar for dusting
  1. To prepare the fillings, heat cherries, 3 tablespoons of sugar and lemon juice in a non-stick pot over medium heat
  2. Turn heat down to low when liquid starts to bubble
  3. Cook until cherries softened, set aside to cool
  4. To make the puff pastry, preheat oven to 350¬įF
  5. Roll out pastry on a floured surface to about 1/8 inch in thickness
  6. Cut with a round cookie cutter into circles, about 2-3 inches in diameter
  7. Place half the number of circles on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper
  8. Dork with a fork, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated or vanilla sugar 
  9. Cut out the centres of the other circles using a smaller cookie cutter, (or a bottle cap would work too) to form rings
  10. Place rings on top of the circles
  11. Brush ring tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar (You can collect all the dough scrapes and re-roll, but only do it once, otherwise it will lose its puffiness)
  12. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden, let cool
  13. Spoon in cherry fillings, dust with icing sugar and serve immediately

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Chocolate Ice Cream

I made this ice cream about 2 weeks ago. Since then I have been thinking what I should write about this post. I wanted to share something special other than just telling you how good this ice cream is. (It is REALLY good !) The day that I made this ice cream, I actually just finished a very good session of rock climbing. So, I decided to share the experience. I started indoor rock climbing about a year ago, and I absolutely fell in love with it. Back then, I never thought I could do it. Yes, my arms “hurt like hell” every time I finished, but I feel good, it’s a good kind of pain. For a 40 something-year old mom, who was not very active, being able to finish a 5.8 route, it’s a big achievement…..(Oh, FYI, a climbing route is graded according to its difficulty. It ranges from 5 all the way to 5.15) Through rock climbing, and also running, I have become more healthy physically and mentally. (Well, I guess that’s a good excuse to make more desserts !) I have learned to be more patient and perseverance. ¬†As a mom, I feel it is important to teach my kids to pursue their dreams and goals no matter how hard they seem…..I have to thank my daughter too ! She likes to climb and keeps me going. ¬†Actually she is even tougher than I am ! ¬†Well done, girl ! …. and well done mom too !¬†
OK, back to the ice cream ! I have made chocolate ice cream before but without the ice cream machine. ¬†Now that I own one, I thought I should make the “real” thing. ¬†And the “real” thing does taste better ! ¬†I added some chopped chocolate for extra flavour and crunchiness, you can omit it if preferred. ¬†

Makes about 1 L

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 50 g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 100 g dark or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped (optional)¬†
  • ice and water for ice bath
  1. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar and 1/4 cup milk
  2. In a non-stick pot, heat remaining milk, 1 cup of whipping cream and cocoa powder over medium heat until just boiled, stirring constantly (Keep the other cup of whipping cream in the fridge)
  3. Add 1/3 cup of hot mixture into egg mixture to temper, then pour everything back into pot
  4. Turn heat down to low, stir constantly until just thickened, mixture should coat back of spoon (You can draw a streak in the middle of the spoon with your finger, if the streak stays clear, it is ready)
  5. Remove from heat immediately, strain through a fine mesh twice
  6. Let sit in an ice bath, stir in vanilla extract and remaining cold whipping cream
  7. Let cool completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight
  8. Place in ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions
  9. Fold in chopped chocolate
  10. Serve soft immediately or keep in freezer

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My Favourite Cookbooks – My latest good read

Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking – by Michael Ruhlman

This book was recommended by Chef Marco Ropke at the Vancouver Pastry Training Centre when I took a course there. If you see this book in a book store, you probably wouldn’t think it’s a cookbook. It doesn’t have any¬†mouth-watering food photos or unique recipes. ¬†Although I think it would be nice to have some coloured pictures inside. ¬†But for less than $20, it is well worth it. It talks about culinary ratios, which are the backbones for all recipes. For example, a basic pie dough ratio is 3-2-1, 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat and 1 part water; a vinaigrette is 3 parts oil and 1 part vinegar. Once you know these ratios, you can add your flavours (sweet or savory), herbs, spices, seasonings, etc. You can create recipes according to your own preference. Even if you are trying someone else’s recipe, you can change it to the way you like as long as you keep your backbone ratios. ¬†It also has many cooking tips. So, if you like to cook and create your own recipes, you will enjoy reading it.

You can find this great book on the Amazon website by clicking on the title of the book. I will receive a small compensation if you purchase the item. 

 

 

Lemon Panna Cotta with Blackberry Sauce

This is one of the desserts that my daughter and I would “fight” to have the last bite…. and of course mommy always “loses” ūüôā I love the blackberry sauce, it’s refreshing and it helps to balance the richness of the panna cotta. ¬†If you have left over sauce, you can use it as a spread on you toast, pancakes or waffles.

Makes about 4 servings

For the panna cotta

  • 1+1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 envelope or tablespoon unflavoured gelatin

For the blackberry sauce

  • 12 ounces fresh blackberries
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  1. Sprinkle gelatin over lemon juice and let sit for a few minutes (it will form a block of jelly, which is fine)
  2. Heat together whipping cream, milk, sugar and lemon zest in a non-stick pot over medium heat until sugar all dissolved and just starting to bubble, turn heat down to low 
  3. Add gelatin mixture
  4. Stir until gelatin all dissolved
  5. Strain through a fine mesh twice
  6. Pour into lightly greased ramekins or desired containers
  7. Let cool and refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours or overnight
  8. Prepare blackberry sauce by heating up blackberries, sugar and water in a non-stick pot over medium heat
  9. Turn heat down to low when liquid starts to bubble
  10. Gently mash blackberries with a wooden spoon, cook until thickened
  11. Strain seeds and skin out, let cool
  12. When panna cotta is set, dip bottom of ramekins in hot water for about 10 seconds, then run a knife around ramekins, invert gently on plates (Alternatively, you can just serve them inside the ramekins)
  13. Serve with blackberry sauce

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Healthy Banana Bread

Besides a mom and a home baker, I am also a pharmacist, so whenever I bake or make desserts, I would have a dilemma in my mind. Shouldn’t I be promoting healthy eating as a health professional? But I really like to make and eat sweets ? To somewhat justify myself, I try to create more recipes that use less sugar and fat, and incorporate healthier ingredients. ¬†It took me a few tries to make this healthy yet very delicious banana bread. It contains no butter and no refined sugar. It is moist but not too dense, which is what my family likes. You can use bread flour if you prefer a denser texture. I also added some ground flax seeds for your extra dose of fibre and omega fatty acids!

Makes one 9×5 inch loaf

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 3-4 ripe bananas, meshed (about 1+1/2 cups)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 120 g coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup organic agave syrup
  • 100 g plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350¬ļF
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl
  3. Mix in ground flax seeds
  4. Add other wet ingredients, mix until blended
  5. Pour into a lightly greased and floured 9×5 inch loaf pan
  6. Bake for about 50-60 minutes

Oreo Cookies and Cream Cups

Oreos! One of kids’ favourite cookies! Actually they are one of my favourites too. They are super yummy and they make great desserts like these little cookies and cream cups. Great easy idea for pot luck or kids’ parties ! ¬†And I think they would taste extra yummy when the weather is so warm and nice ! ¬†

Makes about 10-12 cups

  • 20 Oreo Cookies
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 100 g soft cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  1. Crush about 15 Oreo cookies into fine crumbs
  2. Mix crumbs with melted butter
  3. Put into silicone baking cups and press firmly to form base
  4. Using an electric mixer, cream icing sugar and cream cheese until fluffy
  5. Add vanilla, mix well
  6. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, beat whipping cream until stiff peak is formed
  7. Gently fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture
  8. Spread on top of cookie base
  9. Coarsely crush remaining cookies and sprinkle on top or you can decorate them with mini Oreos
  10. Freeze for at least 3 hours or overnight