Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What to do with used K-Cups-Deodorize your refrigerator!

Make a refrigerator deodorizer with a used coffee K-Cup
So, a few months ago Eric and I saw a Keurig machine on sale. We had talked about getting one for quite a while, but our old coffee pot was still working fine and it seemed wasteful.  But, after justifying the fact that we can save some time and increase our productivity, I agreed to purchase one.  It now takes less than one minute in the morning to make coffee which makes our morning routine easier and more enjoyable. Now, think of all the times when you wanted a fresh cup of coffee but had no time to make it before you had to dash off? Familiar? Then this system is for you.

A trade off to saving time, however, is that the plastic K-Cups can be quite wasteful.  Through our home-ware industry grapevine, we know the company that makes K-Cups is trying to come up with a recyclable and more environmentally-friendly solution. We look forward to the day that happens. But in the meantime, I tried to look for ways to find uses for used K-Cups when an idea popped into my head--Refrigerator deodorizer.  Here is why, used coffee grounds are one of the most powerful natural deodorizers, and in my experience, they work better than baking soda.  In the way these K-Cups are designed, it is almost like they were perfect to be used as a refrigerator deodorizer.  The coffee grounds are packed solid so they don't spill easily. You can easily pop a few of them in a bowl and store them in the fridge-- and most importantly--they work very well.  So, if you have used a Keurig, save a few used K-cups this week, add about 1/2 tsp spoon of vanilla extract to each k cup and pop it in the fridge- it will get rid of all the weird smells in the refrigerator and leave it odorless.  If you have been using baking soda to deodorize your fridge, you can now try this method.  Give your K-Cup one last use before you throw it away.  :)

Method:
1. Make sure the K-Cup is cool enough to handle, and cut a slit on top of the foil wrapping with a knife to make removing the top of the foil easier.



2. Remove the foil completely.  Place the K-Cup in a dish. Add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract to each K-Cup. (Use a measuring spoon or honey spoon for more precise measurements.)



3. Place the Vanilla scented K-Cup in the refrigerator to start using!  You can make a few of these and use a cluster of K-Cups for larger sized refrigerators or if your fridge smells really bad. For best results, change the K-Cups once a week.




Having a clean smelling fridge is very important in cooking. One strong smelling ingredient in the fridge can ruin more delicate ingredients like butter or tofu.  It is important to deodorize frequently to keep your fridge smelling fresh!  This method makes it simple to do so and if you drink coffee everyday, you will have a steady supply of coffee pods to serve this purpose.

I hope you enjoyed this tip which is a Browncookie.com kitchen care original!

Thank you for reading and visiting our blog!

Sincerely,
Julie

Resources:
Stainless Steel Spoon

Full disclosure: 
The Browncookie blog is the official blog of Browncookie.com. Browncookie.com sources bakeware, baking supplies and kitchenware to bring out the chef in you. All of our suppliers must pass our strict corporate code of conduct in order to conduct business with us. Some of the products featured on this page are for only for discussion and sharing of usage opinions. Browncookie.com will fully disclose when a product endorsement is paid or advertised.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Screwpine Pandan Cakelets-Kueh Bakar


Pandan Cakelets-Kueh Bakar
Hello everybody,

Labor Day is just around the corner, and I am a little sad that summer is coming to an end. Summertime always makes me dream of faraway tropical locales, especially so in Seattle, where our warm months are so short. What is your dream tropical destination? For me tropical locations currently on my dream list to visit are Seychelles Islands and probably Kenya. What are yours?

When I ask people to think of tropical destinations and then name an ingredient that comes to mind, they always think of coconuts. I think of coconuts, too, but I also think of pandan leaves or screw pine leaves. These leaves can be found growing in Florida, Brazil, and many Southeast Asian countries. They perfume foods and desserts, easily making them more complex and exotic. As we celebrate the end of summer, I have created this dessert made with pandan leaves, the ingredient I have long associated with warmth and tropics. 

Thanks for reading.

Julie

Ingredients: 
1 can- 165 ml of coconut milk
5 tbsp of canned pandan juice
3-4 drops of green food coloring
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
125 g of sugar
18 g of butter (just a dab)
150 g flour

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 F. 
2.  Open and empty the contents of the coconut milk into a medium sized bowl.  Add 5 tbsp of canned pandan juice to the coconut milk.  Add 3-4 drops of green food coloring to enhance the color.
3. To the coconut mixture, add eggs and sugar and baking powder.  Stir until combined.
4. In a separate bowl, use your fingers to work the small dab of butter into the flour.  Rub the butter in until it is completely incorporated.
5. Mix the flour/ butter mixture into the liquid ingredients.  Use a whisk to stir until combined.
6. Butter 12 small sponge cake molds  and fill the molds until they are about 3/4 full.  
7. Tap each mold down firmly a few times on a hard surface to ensure the batter is completely "compacted" and there are no large air spaces in between the mold and the liquid batter.
8. Bake for 25-30 mins until the cake tester comes out clean when a toothpick is inserted into the center.
9. Tap the cake out of the mold and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Source
Recipe written by Browncookie.com. Recipe adapted from Traditional Nonya Cuisine Cookbook, available for sale on Browncookie.com. 


Resources:

Traditional Nonya Cuisine Cookbook


http://browncookie.com/collections/books/products/traditional-nonya-cuisine-cookbook

Kueh Bakar Mold
Kueh Bakar Mold

http://browncookie.com/collections/small-cake-pans/products/pumpkin-shaped-sponge-cake-mold-set-of-6


Full disclosure: 
The Browncookie blog is the official blog of Browncookie.com. Browncookie.com sources bakeware, baking supplies and kitchenware to bring out the chef in you. All of our suppliers must pass our strict corporate code of conduct in order to conduct business with us. Some of the products featured on this page are for only for discussion and sharing of usage opinions. Browncookie.com will fully disclose when a product endorsement is paid or advertised.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Tau Suan Sweet Mung Bean Soup

A bowl of Tao Suan, served with You Tiao.
Hello everybody,

This is a follow up recipe to our You Tiao or Chinese Donut recipe. There is no better way to use up your you tiao than to pair it with a bowl of good Tau Suan or Sweet Mung Bean Soup.  In Chinese Medicine, Mung Beans are also considered to be detoxifying, so it is a soup that tastes great and is good for you. The soup is also extremely easy to make and always impressive to serve to family and guests.

Now on to the correct texture of this soup. Just because the soup is easy to make doesn't mean there aren't simple cooking techniques involved. The correct texture for this dessert begins with cooking the mung beans carefully. The beans should be just about cooked and have a slight "al dente" bite to them. If the beans start to fray around their edges, you know you have over cooked the beans.  And, unfortunately, once the beans are overcooked, it will make the soup murky and grayish in color, resulting in an unattractive and incorrect presentation. The correct presentation is one where the beans are still perfectly round but soft, the soup completely clear and when you add the tapioca starch to thicken the soup in the end, the beans look like little gold specks suspended in a crystal clear solution. That is the perfect presentation for this dish.

This is a simple, sweet, comforting, thick but smooth dessert that will leave everybody craving for more.  Now let's get cooking.

Tau Suan, Sweet Mung Bean Soup
Printer Friendly Version
Yield: Serves 4-6 People

Ingredients:
1 cup dried yellow mung beans, rinsed and soaked in water for 30 minutes, then drain  (These are regular green beans or mung beans, with their green skin removed).
1/3 cup tapioca starch mixed with 100 ml of cold water.  (Make sure the mixture is completely mixed)
1 to 1.5 cups sugar (I used 1 cup, but those with a sweeter tooth may add more sugar).
2-3 bundles of pandan leaves
1.5 L of water

Directions:
1. Rinse the dried yellow mung beans with water until the water runs clear.  Soak the mung beans for 30 mins, until partially softened, then drain.
2. Put the bundle of pandan leaves with 1.5L of water in a pot and boil on medium heat for 30 minutes.  Boil until the leaves have softened and the water has turned a greenish tinge of color.  Turn off the heat, remove the pandan leaves and set aside on stove.
Pandan Leaves, cooked and ready to be removed
3. In a sauce pan, add the soaked mung beans with all of the sugar and stir fry the beans for 5-10 mins.  The beans will be ready once the sugar has turned golden brown.
Stir-frying the mung beans for Tao Suan
4. Add this fried mung bean to the pandan water and cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes.  Do not overcook the beans.
5. After the beans have turned soft, turn off the heat and stir in the tapioca starch water and stir evenly to combine.
6. The soup will thicken immediately.
7. Top with cut You Tiao prior to serving and serve warm. 

For our You Tiao recipe, click here.

Source
Recipe written by Browncookie.com and was adapted by Makansutra's Tau Suan Video

Resource
Browncookie.com: Tovolo Silicon Stirring Spoon

Full disclosure:
* Browncookie.com is an official distributor of Tevolo.
The Browncookie blog is the official blog of Browncookie.com. Browncookie.com sources bakeware, baking supplies and kitchenware to bring out the chef in you. All of our suppliers must pass our strict corporate code of conduct in order to conduct business with us. Some of the products featured on this page are for only for discussion and sharing of usage opinions. Browncookie.com will fully disclose when a product endorsement is paid or advertised.

Friday, May 18, 2012

You Tiao, Chinese Donuts, Fried Dough Crullers


Hello everybody,

I hope you had a nice week. Last weekend, I made You Tiao or Chinese Dough Crullers and was pretty pleased with the results. Very few people still bother to make you tiao freshly at home, especially in Asia, where they are commonly sold at food courts, markets and restaurants. It is a pity because outside of Asia, it is quite difficult locate a fresh and crunchy one, embraced by hot oil merely seconds ago. Want to re-create this experience?  Don't worry, because you tiao is actually very easy to make.  If I had to describe the technique involved in making you tiao, I guess it would be very similar to making a beignet or a doughnut, except because you tiao has more leavening agents, when fried, it produces larger air bubbles, creating "holes" in the bread.  The final results? A you tiao that is crispy, juicy and crunchy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside.

Here is a detailed, step by step you tiao recipe. *Just a side note, if this is your first time making you tiao, trust that this recipe will give you good results in terms of taste and texture.  But to get the you tiao perfectly straight and joined together at the "hips" without splitting holes in the middle will take some practice.  Be patient, you will get there.  Also, because you tiaos are usually cut into bite size pieces before serving, the look of the you tiao when they are whole and un-cut will matter even less.  You'll see what I mean when you actually make it. This will all make sense.

You Tiao, Chinese Doughnuts, Fried Dough Fritters

Yield: 24 Full Sized You Tiaos

Printer-Friendly Version

Ingredients
6 cups (1-1/3 lbs) bread flour
2 cups of water
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 Tsp Baking Soda
1-1/2 Tsp Alum
1-1/2 Tsp Salt
2 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil to Coat Dough
1 Large Can Crisco for Frying

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, add baking powder, baking soda, alum and salt. Stir to mix. Next, add water and stir with a fork until all the ingredients have dissolved.

In a separate bowl, measure the bread flour. Add the bread flour directly to the water mixture. Use a large spatula to mix the flour into the dough, scraping down the flour on the sides of the bowl as you go along.  At the point, the texture of the dough will appear rough and a little sticky- this is normal and ok.  Let the dough stand for 15-20 minutes.

Next, grab the dough around the edges and fold it back back into to the center of the dough. Repeat this step until the whole outer edge has been folded back into the center. Continue to do this 3-4 times and then let the dough rest again for 15-20 minutes.  (Note: The dough may be appear rough and sticky at this stage, again this is normal, continue.  Depending on your local climate, if the dough appears too sticky and you have already let it rest, add an additional 1/4 cup of flour and work it into the dough. Most of the time this step won't be needed.).

After resting, repeat the step above once more, pulling from the edges and folding the edges of the dough into the center and continue to do this 8-10 times.  (You will notice that the dough will get smoother and more elastic as you continue to fold).

Next, lift the dough up with your hands, drop 2 tablespoons of oil into the bowl, coat the oil all around the bottom of the bowl and return the dough back into the bowl.  Turn over once to coat completely. Allow the oil to coat the entire surface of the dough ball.  Let this oiled dough ball rest for 1 hour.

After resting the dough ball, remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a sheet of plastic wrap.  Wrap the dough up and shape it into a rectangular log shape.  Let this rest for 4 hours. Make sure the dough is covered completely or you will find dry patches.
You Tiao Dough after resting for 4 hours.  Ready to be rolled and cut.
Unwrap the dough and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out. Roll the dough into a rectangular shape, 3 inches wide and 1/16 inch thick.  This will result in a very long strip of dough.  Tip: It may be easier to gently tug on the dough to stretch the dough out in sections.  When the dough is long enough, you will find that the width of the dough will naturally become 3 inches wide and the thickness will be approximately 1/16 inch thick.
You can use a rolling pin to flatten and pull the dough out into a loooong strip.  Once the dough is 3 wide, you will notice that naturally, the thickness will be approximately 1/16 inch thick.
Cut the dough into strips.
Cut the stretched out dough into strips. Score the center of one side of the dough with a knife to create a small impression. Place two strips on top of each other and use a bamboo skewer or a pastry cutter to press lengthwise in the middle of the strip to secure.
Score the dough in the middle gently with a knife.  This will help the two dough strips to adhere to each other better.
Finally, stretch out the dough strip slightly (give it a gentle tug) before dropping it in the hot oil.
A You Tiao Dough, scretched out.
In a large skillet or wok, heat vegetable shortening on high for 2 mins. Once it has melted, turn the heat to medium.  Fry the you tiaos for about 1-2 mins on each side, flipping each over until the dough has turned a golden brown color.

Enjoy warm. If you would like to store the you tiaos, the best way to preserve their freshness is to cut them up into bite sized pieces and freeze. When you are ready to eat it, pop of a few of them into a toaster oven and they will heat and crisp up nicely. You can also use these doughnuts to top congee and other Asian desserts.
You Tiao nicely chopped up ready to be served.
Thanks for reading!  If you have other topics you would like me to research, please leave me a message in the comments.

Sincerely,
Julie

Source: Recipe adapted from Chinese Snacks Cookbook by Huang Su Huei

Resource:
Browncookie.com: Dough Scrapper
Browncookie.com: Silpat

Full disclosure:
* Browncookie.com is an official distributor of Silpat.
The Browncookie blog is the official blog of Browncookie.com. Browncookie.com sources bakeware, baking supplies and kitchenware to bring out the chef in you. All of our suppliers must pass our strict corporate code of conduct in order to conduct business with us. Some of the products featured on this page are for only for discussion and sharing of usage opinions. Browncookie.com will fully disclose when a product endorsement is paid or advertised.

Monday, May 7, 2012

{Recipe and Book Review} Easy Orzo Pasta with Tomato Vinaigrette


Orzo with tomato vinaigrette
Hello everybody!

I guess this blog post is going to read like a book review.  Last week Giada De Laurentis was in town (Isssquah, WA-Seattle Metro Area) for a book signing. Now, my normal self would try to avoid standing in line for publicity events (i.e iPad launches, Black Friday sales). Gotta respect time, time is precious. However, this time I gave in. It's Giada, and she is one of my food network idols.  So when my good friend agreed to go with me, we went and stood in line for one hour just to catch a glimpse of Giada.

Giada signing her new cookbook.  Photo credit goes to my good friend KR.
Working in the home and kitchenware industry, we get to meet many celebrity chefs, but I have never been as star-struck as I was with Giada. She enthusiastically signed copies of everybody's book and greeted each one of us cheerfully. She has a really beautiful smile.  A lot of people asked me after meeting her if I thought her head was disproportionately huge. And in case you are curious, from my personal observations, I didn't think it was big at all- her head looked pretty normal to me.

Anyway, the book did not sit for very long before I put it to good use.  I took a quick look at all the ingredients in the pantry and decided to make the Orzo Tomato Vinaigrette pasta from her cookbook.  I just happened to have all the ingredients ready. I was also especially happy to get the opportunity to use my Kampot pepper (a gift from Cambodia) because the recipe called for it. The floral flavors of the peppercorn really sit on top of all the ingredients to tie them together perfectly.  As usual, Giada's recipes are simple but taste like you spent the whole day laboring over the stove, only you haven't.  I give this cookbook a Browncookie.com stamp of approval and a buy.

Here is the recipe adapted from Giada's new cookbook, I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks for reading.
Julie

Orzo with smoky tomato vinaigrette

Printer Friendly Version
Yield: 4 people

Ingredients:
1 pound (2 pints) cherry tomatoes
Kosher Salt
1 pound orzo pasta
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
Smoked Salt (Ok to substitute with regular sea salt)
Freshly ground black pepper (I used kampot pepper, which has a very strong floral flavor)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:
Put a tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet and heat it for about 30 seconds.  Next, add the cherry tomatoes and leave them to sizzle for about 1 minute.  When the tomato skins look like they are slightly charred, use a spatula to stir the pan. 
Tomatoes getting charred but not too charred.  You want it to be smokey, not burned.
After the skin is charred, move the tomatoes occasionally until the tomatoes have softened and released their juices.  (About 8-10 minutes).  Before removing, you will notice some tomatoe skins and charred areas stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add about a tablespoon of water to the hot pan to remove the juicy bits.  Allow to cool.

Next, boil the orzo pasta according to the instruction on the package.  Most orzo pasta will cook to a perfect al dente in 8 to 10 mins.  Drain and transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl.

In a small food processor, add tomatoes, basil, vinegar, olive oil, honey, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/4 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper.  Blend until smooth and no large chunks are left.

Toss the pasta together with the vinaigrette and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Serve.  This dish is delicious when refrigerated, too. Pasta can also be chilled and served as a side salad for a picnic or outdoor event. For a weeknight dinner, you may also consider adding a piece of grilled or pan fried chicken breast on the side to round out a meal.

Source: Recipe adapted from Giada's new cookbook Weeknights with Giada

Disclosure: Browncookie.com was not paid or compensated in any way to write this blog post about Giada's new cookbook.  Her cookbook was purchased by us for reference and also to keep up with our knowledge of culinary trends.

Full Disclosure:The Browncookie blog is the official blog of Browncookie.com. Browncookie.com sources bakeware, baking supplies and kitchenware to bring out the chef in you. All of our suppliers must pass our strict corporate code of conduct in order to conduct business with us. Some of the products featured on this page are for only for discussion and sharing of usage opinions. Browncookie.com will fully disclose when a product endorsement is paid or advertised.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Financier Recipe

Financiers- Freshly out of the oven.  Note the pitted holes and perfectly shaped tapered ends.
Today's baking post is going to be on Financiers. Financiers are called financiers because they are baked in tapered tartlet pans or "financier molds" which make them resemble a banker's bar of gold (Financiers). Financiers are little tea cakes. They are small enough that you can finish eating them in one or two bites. The best way to describe them would be that they are sort of like a cross between a madeleine and a macaron. In fact, the flavors are very similar to a macaron because of the use of almond powder, but unlike a macaron, it requires nowhere near the fussiness and precision required achieve perfection. I like it this way because it means as a recipe is it "high yield", super easy, reliable for the home baker and you can always count on it if you have to entertain.  

Now, with the way the news has been reporting about the global economy recently, let these gold bars remind you that better days are around the corner... starting in your kitchen! :)  Just think, you have tons of baked gold bars laying around. Gratitude always makes everything better, doesn't it? It does for me.  

Have a wonderful day and thanks for reading!

Financier Recipe:

Yield: About 4 dozen when used with The Browncookie.com financier molds

Ingredients:
1-1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus more for pans
2 cups (6 ounces) sliced blanched almonds 
2-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar (Measure out 2 cups, set aside and put 1/4 cup in a separate bowl)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup egg whites (about 8 large eggs) room temperature

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Whisk the butter frequently to prevent it from burning.  When the butter has turned a golden brown color, take it off the stove.  (Tip: If using an All-Clad saucepan, take it off the stove just when the butter is about to turn golden brown because the heat from the pot will continue to brown the butter.)  This will take about 6-7 minutes depending on your stove. Let the butter cool completely.
This is the color of the butter you want.  It should not be much darker than this.
Next, place the 1/4 cup of confectioner's sugar with the almonds in a bowl of a food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely chopped. This step may be skipped if you are using almond meal that is already finely chopped.
Egg white- soft peaks
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt and add the nut-sugar mixture. Stir to combine.
In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites with 2 cups of confectioners' sugar until the egg white has turned foamy. Remove bowl from the stand.  In three parts, add flour-nut mixture, alternating with the butter mixture.  Gently mix the ingredients together until just combined.

Chill the batter for at least 2 hours or up to 4 days prior to baking.

(Tip: Let the batter come back to around room temperature before filling the molds. This will ensure proper browning and texture.)
Filled Financiers
Preheat oven to 400 F.  Butter and flour financier molds.  It is good to have a set of 24 fancier molds on hand, but if you have less, you just have to repeat the process more often. Place the molds on a rimmed baking sheet.  Fill the financier molds about 1/2 way (about 1 tablespoon each) and tap the molds down gently to slightly spread out the batter.

Bake the financiers for about 10-12 mins, until the edges of the cakes have turned golden brown.

Allow to cool and then remove the cake using a small spatula or a toothpick.

Enjoy!

Julie

Source: Financier recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart Baking Handbook

Resource:  Browncookie.com: Financier Molds

Full Disclosure:The Browncookie blog is the official blog of Browncookie.com. Browncookie.com sources bakeware, baking supplies and kitchenware to bring out the chef in you. All of our suppliers must pass our strict corporate code of conduct in order to conduct business with us. Some of the products featured on this page are for only for discussion and sharing of usage opinions. Browncookie.com will fully disclose when a product endorsement is paid or advertised.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Apple cupcake topped with Apple-shaped Candy

Apple cupcake topped with apple shaped candy
Hello everybody!

Spring is here! In Seattle, the days are getting longer and I can even *almost* feel a tinge of warmth in the air. Gone are the days when I need to crouch down near the heat return in the morning as I wait for the hot coffee to brew. The change in weather is already leaving me refreshed after a cold winter. Spring is a season of renewal, are you doing anything to recharge for the year? 


Speaking of the welcoming arrival of spring, I am already craving local peaches, berries, fresh carrots and vegetables.  However, the only local fruits available here now are still overwintered local apples and imported tropical fruits like bananas, oranges and berries- not many options yet. So, I decided to go with an apple-based cupcake. Adding apples to cupcakes will cut down on the amount of flour used while at the same time packing in flavors. Apple cupcakes are best paired with a cream cheese frosting because the tanginess from the cream cheese compliments perfectly with the natural tanginess form the apples. It is also not as sweet compared to traditional buttercream frosting. I also like to top cupcakes with edible toppings, so I molded my own apple shaped candy to top the cupcakes. The cream cheese frosting is thick and dense enough to support the candy without sagging the frosting. Enjoy!

Apple Cupcake Recipe
Printer Friendly Version

Ingredients:
Yield: 24 Cupcakes
2 cups apples, skin on, grated
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 cup butter
2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Line a muffin tray with cupcake papers. 
3. Wash and grate apples in a medium sized sauce pan.
4. Add sugar, water, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into the same sauce pan and bring the mixture to a boil.
5. Let the mixture cool (about 30 mins)
6. Add flour and baking soda in the sauce pan and stir until combined.  Do not overmix.
7. Fill the paper lined cupcake tins to 2/3 full.  These cupcakes do not expand a lot, so if you need the cakes to be slightly taller, you can fill it *almost* all the way to the top.
8. Bake for about 30 mins, or until the cake tester turns out clean when tested.  It is hard to overbake this cake because it is quite a moist batter.

Apple Candy Recipe
Yield: 12 Apple Shaped Candies


Ingredients
6 oz (half a bag) of colored candy (Pick any color of your choice.  We picked pink.)
Apple Candy Mold

Directions:
1) In a small sauce pan, fill it halfway with water and bring to a boil.
2) Put a heat safe bowl over the hot water and put the candy inside.
3) In about 10 mins, the candy should have melted.  Make sure the candy is completely melted by ensuring that it has a good, thin, flowing texture.
4) Add the candy to the apple shaped candy molds and stir with a toothpick.
5) Lift the mold carefully and tap the mold to eliminate air bubbles.
6) Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour, then transfer to refrigerator to finish cooling.
7) When the candy is completely set, remove them from the mold.  The candy release should be clean and flawless if the candy has set properly.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Yield: About 1 dozen if you are piping it high, 2 dozen if more flat.

Ingredients:
8 oz cream cheese, chilled
1 stick butter, at room temperature
3 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
4 tsp clear vanilla extract

Directions:
1) Beat the butter and cream cheese together until it is smooth, light and fluffy.  This will take about 2-3 minutes on high.
2) Add in the confectioners' sugar and mix on low speed just until incorporated.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat 2-3 minutes more.
3) Add the clear vanilla extract.
4) Carefully load the icing into a large icing bag fitted with a tip of your choice. 
5) Frost cupcakes! 

Sources:
Apple Cupcakes: Adapted from Dayla @Food.com
Apple Candy Toppings: A Browncookie.com original
Cream Cheese Frosting: Adapted from Annie-Eats who adapted it from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Resources:
Browncookie.com: Apple Candy Mold
Browncookie.com: Red Baker's Twine
Browncookie.com: Piping Tips
Wilton.com: Pink Candy Melts *
*Browncookie.com is an authorized distributor of Wilton.  

Full Disclosure: The Browncookie blog is the official blog of Browncookie.com. Browncookie.com sources bakeware, baking supplies and kitchenware to bring out the chef in you. All of our suppliers must pass our strict corporate code of conduct in order to conduct business with us. Some of the products featured on this page are for only for discussion and sharing of usage opinions. Browncookie.com will fully disclose when a product endorsement is paid or advertised.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lavender banana bread recipe


Hello everybody!

Banana bread is one of those recipes that I love baking at home- simple, easy and you can't beat it when it is fresh out of the oven. Only homemade for me, not store bought, unless I get desperate. :)

Some background info on my banana bread recipe "journey", I have tried numerous recipes. A few years ago, I even tried a banana recipe called the "Ultimate banana bread" recipe from Cooks Illustrated. The recipe was very labor-intensive, involving zapping bananas in the microwave to get the juices out, using three times the normal amount of bananas to jam in extra banana flavors, and then adding banana slices as "shingles" on top of the loaf to keep the cake moist during the baking process etc, etc. Imagine my disappointment when the cake was dense (good) but very dry (bad) and didn't have the extra banana kick to justify the extra efforts (very sad). For me, it was not the ultimate recipe I had imagined. So, I continued testing recipes using blacked-overly ripened bananas, using just ripen-speckled banana, using sour cream, switching to using butter cream, adding baking powder, no, no baking powder....yes, I have experimented and tried them all.

That is why when I finally found a recipe combination I liked, I had to share it with everybody. I think I have the best banana bread recipe for me.  Flavorful, no extra, unnecessary steps.  In my opinion, a fine balance between texture, flavor and simplicity that I was looking for. I hope you enjoy it! 

Thanks for reading!
Julie

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Ingredients:
1-1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature and more for pan
1 cup granulated sugar (Variation: You can reduce this to 3/4 cup for a bread that is less sweet)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (approximately 2 large bananas) very ripe bananas (When you see speckles on the banana skin, it is good enough, they do not have to be blacken or VERY VERY ripe)
1/2 cup greek yogurt (Fage-Whole Milk Greek Yogurt)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tiny drops Lavender oil (Afelier Perfume- Lavender Absolute from France) -Optional
*A tiny note on lavender absolute.  It is very potent.  Don't try to be greedy and add more than 2 drops, unless you want to perfume your whole mouth when you eat a tiny bite of cake  :)  Also, if you decide to cook with lavender oil, you need to make sure it is food grade safe.

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9 by 5 by 3 inch loaf pan and set aside.  Next, in an electric beater fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and until the butter has turned into a paler shade of yellow.  Next, add eggs and beat until the ingredients are well incorporated.  Scrape with a silicon spatula if needed.

2.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add to the butter-egg- sugar mixture and mix until just combined. To the same mixture, add mashed bananas, greek yogurt, vanilla and lavender oil.  Make sure the mixture is mixed thoroughly but do not over mix.

3. Pour mixture into prepared pans and bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes. Test with a toothpick or cake tester to make sure the banana bread is completely baked. If the bread still has liquid batter, return the cake to the oven and bake for 5 more minutes and then re-check until it is done. 

4. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then unmold and cool completely on a wire rack.  Cake will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 3 days.  Refrigerate or freeze left overs.

Resource:
Browncookie.com- Silicone spoon used for scrapping batter
Browncookie.com- Medium sized mixing bowl

Source: Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart and inspired by Young Living Circle Blog.

Full disclosure:
The Browncookie blog is the official blog of Browncookie.com. Browncookie.com sources bakeware, baking supplies and kitchenware to bring out the chef in you. All of our suppliers must pass our strict corporate code of conduct in order to conduct business with us. Some of the products featured on this page are for only for discussion and sharing of usage opinions. Browncookie.com will fully disclose when a product endorsement is paid or advertised.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Beef Stew with Apple Cider

Beef Stew with Apple Cider
Hello everybody,

Are you ready for winter to be over?  A part of me says yes, but, at the same time, I love the heavier, heartier meals we get to enjoy during the winter time. Being cold outside, the warm, hearty meals are especially comforting. We might as well enjoy them while we can.

Now, speaking of hearty meals, last week I looked in my pantry and noticed that I had a whole container of apple cider leftover from the holidays and wanted to use it up. I also wanted to make a stew. Stew, hmmm and apple cider, I thought, is that a good combination?  Sounds promising, but I didn't trust myself to draw up a recipe from my intuition, so the hunt for a recipe began. Surprisingly, I quickly found an interesting stew recipe in the January issue of InStyle magazine. It used a lot of apple cider and wasn't just the plain old potato, carrot, celery, chuck meat stew variety.  Shockingly at first to me, it also had ingredients like pineapple, sambal chili and (gasp!) fish sauce. Under normal circumstances, the pineapple in a stew alone would have turned me completely off, but in this case, i knew it would work well with the apple cider to balance out the flavor. The acid from the pineapple would also tenderize the meat, yielding the most moist, juicy and flavorful stew meat. So, that was ok, but what about non-stew ingredients like fish sauce and sambal chilli? I studied the measurements and they were in moderate amounts, probably added to balance out flavors and not be overpowering or distracting. Finally, given the fact that I had most of the ingredients already in my pantry, I decided to jump into it and make the recipe. And I was very happy that I did, because this is the most flavorful, luxurious stew I have ever made. Very interesting and complex flavors, too.

I have adjusted this recipe and given options whenever possible so that you can try it at home. I promise that you will enjoy this, you won't waste your money, or your meat.  :)

Thanks for reading!

Julie

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Ingredients:
3 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
3 lb beef, cubed (I used a roast cut)
2 medium onions, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 of a pineapple, peeled, cored and finely diced **
1/2 cup red wine
1 quart chicken broth
2 cups apple cider
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup fish sauce
3/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 tbsp sambal paste
Freshly ground black pepper and salt

Directions:
1.  Heat 1 tbsp oil over high heat in skillet. Add half of the beef and season with 1/4 tsp pepper. Let the meat brown in the pan and then set aside in a medium sized bowl. Repeat with the remaining beef. 
2. Set the second batch of beef aside in the same bowl.
3. In the same skillet, add another 1 tbsp vegetable oil and over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic until it is translucent. (About 3 minutes).
4. In a large pot or a stock pot, add the sauteed onion and garlic.
5. Next, add pineapple, apple, pear and wine to the pot and reduce the liquid by half (about 5-7 minutes).
6. Once the liquid has been reduced by half, add cooked beef along with chicken broth, apple cider, tomatoes, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, mustard, and sambal.
7. Bring the whole pot to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
8. Cover and simmer until beef cubes fall apart easily when poked with a fork. (About 2 more hours).
9. Serve with a side of cornbread.

**Side note: If you do not like the pineapple chunks in your stew, you can juice the pineapple in a juicer and add the juice and 1/2 of the pulp to the stew.  This side note is for those who know they do not like to bite into chunks of pineapple in the same way they do not like pineapple on their pizza.  In this stew, the pineapple is an essential ingredient in order to tenderize the meat, but this tip will solve the problem.

Source:
Recipe adapted from January 2012 InStyle Magazine, who featured and borrowed the original recipe from Chicago based star chef, Stephanie Izard.

Resource:
Browncookie.com: Molds to bake corn bread muffins

Full Disclosure: The Browncookie blog is the official blog of Browncookie.com. Browncookie.com sources bakeware, baking supplies and kitchenware to bring out the chef in you. All of our suppliers must pass our strict corporate code of conduct in order to conduct business with us. Some of the products featured on this page are for only for discussion and sharing of usage opinions. Browncookie.com will fully disclose when a product endorsement is paid or advertised.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Heart Shaped Pancakes- Valentine's Day


Hello everybody!

Valentine's Day is coming up. What are your plans to celebrate with your loved ones? Today, I am going to show you a simple way to show your love- Heart shaped pancakes. 

Molded pancakes are super simple to make if you follow these easy steps:

1) Choose a thicker pancake batter.  (Prevents seepage from under the ring)
2) Choose a batter that has more eggs (Cooks and forms pancakes quicker)
3) Use a non-stick skillet (Makes the release easier)
4) Grease your pancake mold carefully before you begin. (Makes the release easier).
Note: The pancake ring gets hot.  Use oven mitts or similar insulation to protect your hands before attempting to work with the mold. Let the mold cool in between batches.
Here is a recipe that is sure to guarantee your success:


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Ingredients:
3 large eggs
115g/ 4oz all purpose flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
140 ml/ 5fl oz milk
A pinch of salt
10 Large Strawberries, diced into small pieces for toppings.

Directions:
1) In a large bowl, beat the eggs until the the yolks are broken.
2) Add the rest of the ingredients, and stir quickly until they are incorporated.
3) Do not over mix- the batter should be lumpy.
4) Grease the pancake ring with cooking spray or with butter.
4) In a completely flat frying pan or griddle, place the heart ring in the middle of the pan. 
5) Add the batter until that pancake ring is about 3/4 full.  (The batter does have baking powder, so it will rise a bit during the cooking process).
**If you find that the batter is seeping out underneath the pancake ring, your pan is not completely flat.  Use a different pan.**
6) Cook on medium heat until the top is no longer liquidy, then remove the formed pancake from the ring.
7) Flip the pancake over and continue cooking for another 1 minute.
8) Serve warm with maple syrup and sprinkle strawberries over the top.  This is a rich, delicious and luxurious pancake to be shared with those you love.



Source: Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver

Resource:
Heartshape Pancake Ring- Browncookie.com
Pancake Pen- Browncookie.com


Full Disclosure: 
The Browncookie blog is the official blog of Browncookie.com.  Browncookie.com sources bakeware, baking supplies and kitchenware to bring out the chef in you.  All of our suppliers must pass our strict corporate code of conduct in order to conduct business with us. Some of the products featured on this page are for only for discussion and sharing of usage opinions.  Browncookie.com will fully disclose when a product endorsement is paid or advertised.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Breakfast Casserole-Jamie Oliver


Hello everybody!

This is a continuation of my last blog post about my brunch. For brunch, I knew I wanted to make a breakfast casserole of some sort. I looked online everywhere- at foodbuzz.comannie-eats.net and marthastewart.com to find inspiration for a colorful, delicious and hearty breakfast casserole, but I was not successful.  This was until my friend told me about a dish her brother made for brunch recently... and then she showed me a photo of the dish. I was immediately intrigued. The recipe is from Jamie Oliver. 

I looked over his recipe, and it had everything I liked, EXCEPT(!) I hate cooking vegetables in animal fat, which is basically what the recipe said to do.  Ok, let me retract my last sentence about animal fat..what I mean is, I hate using animal fat unnecessarily, especially when I feel that it doesn't add to the final result of the dish.  We can only consume so many calories in a day, so animal fats should be used only when necessary- i.e. when the dish will fall apart without its use.  Some examples of this- Poaching a piece of duck in its own fat to make duck confit, pieces of lard in wonton noodles for a burst of texture and flavor and cooking certain lentils in ghee to make a creamy daal. Just for cooking vegetables? No need to waste calories and consume saturated fats. In this dish, you won't be missing too much flavor from the animal fats since the red pepper is such a dominant flavor.

So, what I ended up doing was rewrite the recipe with a healthier version in mind. I also made the cooking steps more efficient.  **Side note, I don't like chorizo sausage, so I have replaced it with Italian sausage (which is my favorite).  You can use whichever sausage you like best.

Ingredients
Small mini potatoes in 3 colors: Golden, Red and Purple (About 4-5 of each color)- Cut into chunks
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 6 links of Italian sausages (Ok to substitute with chorizo)- Cut into thirds
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
Two large handfuls of ripened cherry tomatoes
A few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp Olive Oil 

*Note: Original recipe called for over-easy eggs to be plated together, but i prefer to serve eggs separately as a stand alone dish.  

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. On the stovetop, in a hot frying pan, brown the Italian sausages and render out the fats.  *Drain the FAT* and set the sausage aside. 
3.  In a separate oven-safe casserole dish, add olive oil.  Add potatoes, tomatoes and peppers and give everything a good shake and toss in the olive oil with a large spatula.
4. Bake for 20 mins in the oven, until the vegetables have softened and are cooked through. 
5. Remove the casserole from the oven, add the Italian sausage and return the dish to the oven for another 5 mins.
6. Season with salt and pepper (it is unlikely you will need a lot of salt because the Italian sausage is likely to be salty).
7. Sprinkle chopped parsley.
8. Let cool and serve with eggs over-easy and a loaf of good French bread.
9. Enjoy with your loved ones!

Source: 
Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver

Resource:  
Oven proof casserole dish- Emile Henry
Spatula for tossing- Browncookie.com
Spoon for serving jam or honey: Browncookie.com

Full Disclosure: 
The Browncookie blog is the official blog of Browncookie.com.  Browncookie.com sources bakeware, baking supplies and kitchenware to bring out the chef in you.  All of our suppliers must pass our strict corporate code of conduct in order to conduct business with us. Some of the products featured on this page are for only for discussion and sharing of usage opinions.  Browncookie.com will fully disclose when a product endorsement is paid or advertised.
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