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Saturday
Oct092010

Chocolate crackle-nots

Homemade gifts for my coworkers

I debated if I should post this recipe. These are a chocolate crackle-top cookie recipe I have, but the two or three times I've made them, they never crackle on top properly as I wished they would, like in this photo.

At first my baking esteem was a bit down, that I couldn't figure this out... but ah ha! The cookbook these are from has awful reviews on Amazon.com. Well that makes me feel a bit better. LOL!

Though it's true: from the couple of recipes I've tried, the cookbook isn't as amazing as I'd hoped. I love that each recipe has a beautiful, drool-triggering photo, but each recipe is chopped to half a page underneath to make room. And apparently the recipes are recycled from other books, some with errors. Maybe that's why the fudge was too sweet, and the marzipan cookie cooking time was off. Oh dear.

But the cookies still turn out nice, kind of like frosted, dense brownie bits. I've had a few compliments on them. A bit like... richer chocolate TimBits?!

Though... if you want a proper crackle top, seek elsewhere. Let me know if you find a good one.

Ingredients:

  • 7 ounces bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate, or bittersweet chocolate chips (about a 1 1/2 cups)
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 to 2 cups icing sugar

Steps:

  1.  Melt the chocolate and butter in a large, heavy-bottom saucepan.
  2. Melting chocolate chips and butter
  3. Remove the chocolate from the heat, let it cool a little so you won't cook the eggs when you add them. Beat in the two eggs, one at a time. You may wish to beat the eggs before pouring them in. (See, already this is a bit spotty. Sorry.)
  4. Add the vanilla and mix in.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  6. Gradually add the flour mixture to the chocolate. The dough will get very dense.
  7. Chocolate cookie dough
  8. Cover and chill the dough for at least 1 hour.
  9. Preheat the oven to 325 F and prepare a baking sheet. Put some icing sugar in a small bowl.
  10. Roll the chocolate dough into balls of about a tablespoon or rounded teaspoon of dough each. Roll each ball in icing sugar.
  11. Chocolate crackle tops ready to go
  12. Place the balls on the cookie sheet to bake for 10-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean. For my oven this seemed closer to 15 minutes.
  13. Chocolate crackle tops
  14. Remove from the oven and let cool. Done!

Chocolate crackle cookies closeup

Tuesday
Sep142010

Candied lemon peel

Candied lemon peel in syrup, closeup

This weekend I made candied lemon peel for the first time! It's SUPER easy, especially if you are already puttering around in the kitchen making ... say... COOKIES! (recipe for that later this week!)

I used this recipe from the Night Baking blog (via TasteSpotting). There's also this recipe at Epicurious that suggests orange and grapefruit peel.

Steps in short:

Remove the peel from a lemon in slices. Avoid the white pith or scrape it off the peel afterwards.

Lemon peel

Put the lemon peel in a small saucepan, cover with water, and boil for a few minutes. Drain the water, add fresh water, boil and drain once more. The bright yellow water surprised me.

Boiling lemon peel in sugar syrup

Next boil the peels in a sugar solution: add 1 cup water and 2 cups white sugar. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the peels begin to turn transparent. (In the photo below they are starting to turn transparent; see also the top photo.) This took maybe 20 minutes?

Boiling lemon peel in sugar syrup, closeup

Remove from heat and let the peels and lemon-sugar syrup cool.

Candied lemon peel in syrup

You can either leave the peels in syrup (in the fridge) or dip the peels in white sugar and let them dry. So pretty either way!

Making candied lemon peel

You can eat the candied lemon peels straight (yum!), or chop them up and add them to cakes, cupcakes, or cookies. They also make wonderful additions to gift packages.

Chocolate crackle cookies closeup

The Night Baking blog post has a lot of tips, check it out. Next time I'll try more than one lemon.

Wonderfully you'll also have a cup of lemon sugar syrup as well! This can be used in drinks, used in cakes or cupcakes, or poured on top like a glaze.

More on what else is in this jar later....

Friday
Jun252010

Crazy vegetarian salad: quinoa & black bean


Quinoa Black Bean Salad, originally uploaded by librariansarah.

I was craving a quinoa salad with black beans. Voila!

My husband will eat a quinoa salad, but is iffy with bean salads, so definitely not a quinoa bean salad. So this one is all for me, heheh.

To make, follow the basic idea as my other quinoa salad but add instead:
1/2 to 1 whole can of black beans, drained
1/2 diced orange bell pepper
1/2 diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
A handful or two of steamed spinach, peas, or whatever veggie
1 chopped hot pepper (banana, jalapeno)
Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, chili powder, and lime juice.
Garnish with goat cheese!

Saturday
Jun052010

Home-made iced teas

Been busy with work and a driving course (whoo hoo!) lately, so not too much cooking has been going on. But it's hot out, and having extra cold drinks in the fridge is a blessing :)

Two iced teas

Recently I made iced tea! If you've never made iced tea: basically take your favourite tea, and brew it 2-4x stronger than usual. You can use hot water, then chill the tea after it has brewed, or make Sun Tea: put your container of tea bags & water in bright sunshine. Simply Recipes explains and has a recipe.

Reflection

The first tea I made is inspired by my sister Meg, who loves iced green tea with peppermint. I made it from a peppermint-green-lemongrass loose leaf blend from Mom, but you could also use green tea with fresh mint leaves.

Tea and chain surface tension Tea ball

I also love Starbucks Passion iced lemonade, and I had some Tazo Passion tea, so I made a smaller pitcher of this tea, with lemon and a two or so tablespoons of sugar.

Towering over tea (colour enhance)

I love pitchers. The tall pitcher is from Ikea, and the pretty light blue glass pitcher belonged to Sean's grandparents.

PS - I've recently been diagnosed with low iron, so maybe next I'll be researching and trying out some liver recipes, haha! Sean is giving me dirty looks ;)

Thursday
Apr222010

Tofu, tofu, on the barbeque

PS - do you prefer to spell barbeque with a Q or with a C?

Grilled tofu

We tried grilling some tofu on our NEW BARBEQUE YAY the other day. Doesn't this look tasty?

We bought regular firm tofu, and also a brand of sesame-ginger tofu to try. I loved the sesame-ginger, it had a nice spicy ginger kick and seasamy nutty flavour.

I followed the instructions here at Vegetarian.About.com: freezing, pressing, then marinating the tofu. I made one marinade with BBQ sauce, honey, and chili-garlic sauce, and another with soy sauce and rice vinegar.

Well, I think 5 min per side was a little too long, or the grill was a little too hot, as there were some overly burnt edges. Shhh don't tell, it was my first attempt!

Grilled tofu

Sean pointed out the tofu would be very tasty as cubes on a skewer with veggies. Oh yes we'll have to try that :)