Mixed Berry Pavlova

Continuing with my baking weekend, the other recipe I wanted to try in my cookbook was the Mixed Berry Pavlova recipe. There was a lot of fail on my part that went into making this dish.

First, I thought we had all the ingredients we needed to make this dish so I didn’t invest in buying too many extra ingredients at the grocery store. When we came back, I realized I didn’t have enough eggs to last me the week if I used all the eggs in this recipe. Plus, I only had like 2 tbsp of whipping cream left -_-

Needless to say, I had to halve my recipe to make this work and it worked out because now I don’t have all this extra dessert lying around which allows me to bake other things 😀

The other thing I changed about this recipe is that I took out the liqueur aspect of the mixed berry garnish. Originally, the recipe asked that I toss the mixed berries in some sugar and Grand Marnier. I didn’t have any Grand Marnier so I used Cointreau instead and I thought it tasted ok… but J hated it. It wasn’t THAT bad. I didn’t add the alcohol in the next batch and I have to admit, it did taste much better.  This is a cute and elegant dish and when made in smaller portions, it can look very exquisite.

Mixed Berry Pavlova

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 6 small meringues

Mixed Berry Pavlova

Ingredients

  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream (35%)
  • Fresh mint leaves for garnish
  • Confectioner Sugar for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300F.
  2. In a stand mixer using a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites and pinch of salt until frothy. Slowly add the sugar in a bit at a time until all sugar is incorporated. Whisk until stiff peaks (egg whites should be smooth and glossy)
  3. Add in cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla extract into the egg white mixture and fold to combine.
  4. Spoon dollops of the meringue onto a Silpat or parchment paper and smooth into a round dish using the back of a spoon. You may press down on the middle of the meringue to make a shallow crater so that it leaves space for the whipping cream and berries later.
  5. Turn down the oven to 250F right before you're about to place the meringues in the oven and make for approximately 50 minutes to an hour. The meringues should remain white - if they're starting to turn a bit golden you've baked them for too long.
  6. While the meringue is baking, toss the berries with 1/8 cup of sugar and allow to sit so that the fruits start oozing in juices.
  7. Also, start whipping the whipping cream in a cold bowl.
  8. When meringue is done, allow to cool. Dollop some freshly whipped cream into the crater you made earlier in the meringue and top with the sugar coated berries. Garnish with some fresh mint leaves and dust on some confectioner sugar. Done!
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http://cookingwithteamj.com/2017/07/16/mixed-berry-pavlova/

Cheddar and Chive Scones

I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for quite some time now. It’s the first weekend in a while where I don’t have any family/friend commitments which means I finally have time to bake – Yay!!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and friends but sometimes it’s hard to find time to pursue my hobbies (such as baking) while spending time with them because I often have a hard time multitasking and even if I bake for them while they are there, I feel like I am neglecting them or not fully paying attention! I’d much rather bake first, then invite them over for some treats 🙂

Having not baked in a while, I picked up my newest cookbook (Bobbette & Belle) and decided to flip through it for some inspiration as to what to make. One of the recipes that caught my eye was the Cheddar & Chive scones because I’ve been growing my chive plant but haven’t had a chance to use it much. Plus I had leftover cheese from a few weekends ago I needed to use up so it was perfect.

This recipe was super simple and tasted good. If I were to remake this again, I”d definitely try to make it more savoury – perhaps add some more butter and salt? For the first attempt it wasn’t bad.

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Hojicha Creme Brulee

If you’ve been following our blog for some time now, you’ll know we are pretty into Japanese food and have experimented quite a bit with Japanese cooking. Matcha has been all the craze for the longest time but recently, a new type of Japanese tea has been rising in popularity – Hojicha!

Hojicha is a roasted variation of green tea. I’ve had it several times in Japan and upon returning to Toronto, I started noticing it more in restaurants. In fact, a fairly new Japanese dessert shop in Toronto (Tsujiri) that typically specializes in matcha desserts came out with Hojicha soft serve ice cream and it was really good. Though I personally felt it left a bit of a bitter aftertaste due to how strong the tea flavour was, I enjoyed it.

This inspired us to make Hojicha creme brulee. The great thing about Creme Brulee is that it’s a very versatile recipe. Once you have the base recipe down, you can essentially make any flavour you want. We are still in the process of experimenting with the ratios but I think the first round went well.

As when we experiment with any new recipe, we always try to make it in small batches first as to not waste it if it all turns sour. I found a recipe on SeriousEats that makes creme brulee just for one — perfect! From there, I just adapted the recipe by steeping 1/2 tbsp of hojicha into the whipping cream and voila! This creme brulee is born.

We plan to continue refining this recipe and adjusting the portions as we go. What I like about our blog is that it’s a place for us to keep track of what we made, and allow us to track refinements as we go along.

Hojicha Creme Brulee

Hojicha Creme Brulee

Ingredients

  • 100 g whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbsp hojicha leaves
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 tsp of sugar (to carmelize for the creme brulee)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300F and boil some water for the square 8x8 baking pan which you will use for the bain marie.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the whipping cream over medium high heat until it comes to a gentle simmer. Once it starts to bubble a little bit around the edges, turn off the heat and add the hojicha tea leaves. Cover and let steep for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Once it's done steeping, strain the tea leaves and put the infused whipped cream mixture back into the pot to keep warm.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolk and sugar together. Then, slowly add a bit of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture to temper it while whisking continuously. Then, add the rest of the cream mixture in a bit at a time. This will prevent the eggs from cooking. Finally, add the vanilla extract.
  5. Put the mixture into a ramekin and place the ramekin into the square pan. Fill the pan with boiling water and bake for 40 minutes or until the centre is firm when you shake it.
  6. Allow to cool for 15-20minutes and then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  7. When ready to serve, sprinkle the top of the creme brulee with the remaining sugar and blow torch the top to get that signature carmelized top.
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http://cookingwithteamj.com/2017/07/03/hojicha-creme-brulee/

 

 

Strawberry Scones Recipe

Every summer, we have a tradition of going strawberry picking because we love strawberries and the endless possibility of dishes we could make with them. Even if we can’t eat them all, we could always freeze it but they don’t last that long in the freezer anyways. Last year, we made strawberry sorbet which was one of our favourite frozen dessert.

Normally we would go to a local farm to pick our strawberries but this time we went to a different one to give it a try. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize how expensive the “pick your own” experience was at this farm – it was $5 admission per person AND that fee does not get subtracted from the total cost of your strawberries. The strawberries cost almost $5 a pound! At that price, it was difficult for us to justify picking our own strawberries so we decided to just buy trays of strawberries that were pre-picked since they were looking pretty good anyways.

We also bought some Rhubarb to make Strawberry Rhubarb pie. Mind you, I’ve never had Rhubarb before and the only way I know how to eat it is in pie form (which I’ve also never made) so it will be quite the experiment lol.

After dropping close to probably $40 on strawberry and rhubarb, we went home on a mission to make as many strawberry dishes as possible. This will mark the beginning of #StrawberryWeek.

One of the first dishes we made was Strawberry Scones.

I love scones. There’s something about them that makes them such an elegant dish – probably because I see them at fancy places like brunch or high tea. This would taste great with some fresh jam or butter. However, I personally think they taste great as is but it’s personal preference.

Strawberry Scones Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

Total Time: 33 minutes

Yield: 8 Scones

Strawberry Scones Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 
1/3 cup sugar

  • 
1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 
3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

  • 
3/4 cup fresh strawberries, diced

  • 
1/2 cup sour cream
  • 
1 large egg

  • half & half cream (if the batter is still too dry)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry cutter (or in a food processor), cut in the cold butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Gently stir in strawberries.

  3. In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.

  4. Slowly incorporate the sour cream mixture into the flour mixture until all the liquid is incorporated. It should come together into a shaggy looking like dough. If the mixture is still too dry, add in some half & half cream a little bit at a time until there isn't any dry ingredient left.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a ball and flatten into a circular disc. Then, using a bench scraper, you can cut the scones into triangles (similar to how you divide a pie or pizza).
  6. Place the scones on a silpat or parchment paper and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and then serve.
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http://cookingwithteamj.com/2017/06/25/strawberry-scones/

Father’s Day Tomahawk Steak Dinner

Father’s day may be over but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your loved ones a delicious Tomahawk steak dinner!

We picked this bad boy up at the Cheese Boutique out in Etobicoke. We originally wanted to go there to pick up some artisanal cheese but was pleasantly surprised when we found out this place was actually a grocery store too! We honestly expected to go in and only see cheese based on the name lol.

This place was like whole foods, but better because things weren’t crazily overpriced but you can tell the quality of their food was good. What really impressed us was while we were shopping, a guy came around and offered us espresso. The first thing that came to mind was “Do we have to pay for this?” but it didn’t seem like it would cost us anything so we just went for it. Nothing makes us feel more special than having espresso while grocery shopping, especially when it comes served to you in a saucer with a little shortbread cookie! How cute 🙂

They even came around with free sorbet after! This place was awesome. We got to sample all the cheeses and cured meats too. Love it.

Anyways, we ended up leaving the store with quite a number of things, the Tomahawk steak being one of them.

We prepared the steak using the reverse sear method that we learned from Serious Eats and it turned out delicious! The key is to generously season the steak with freshly ground pepper and coarse sea salt. It may seem like a lot of salt on the steak but trust us, it’s not! Continue reading

Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is my guilty pleasure. Perhaps it’s because I really don’t know what else I can do with all the fresh basil we’ve been growing in our garden other than making pasta sauce but this dish is pretty solid. I’ve been making it so much that I’ve been told to cut back on it because eating that much cheese on a daily basis can’t be good for you.

All you really need to make this dish is 3 main ingredients – some form of mozzarella cheese (we used Burrata), fresh basil, and tomatoes.

Usually whenever we make this dish, we use good quality extra virgin olive oil and a generous amount of freshly ground salt and pepper to season. However, since the quality of these tomatoes and cheese was so good, we were able to cut back on the seasoning quite significantly (which is better for our health!). I could eat this up for DAYS. I’m not typically a salad person but I could have this on the regular that’s for sure 🙂

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Ingredients

  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Fresh Basil
  • Fresh Burrata Cheese (Bocconcini or Fior Di Latte will work too)
  • Freshly Ground Salt and Pepper
  • Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Cut your cherry tomatoes in halves or quarters (personal preference).
  2. You can roughly cut up your cheese to get that rough textured look and sprinkle it all over your plate for that spontaneous look and feel.
  3. Finely chop up some basil or rip them up into tiny pieces. Sprinkle generously across your salad.
  4. Drizzle with generous amount of extra virgin olive oil and season with freshly ground salt and pepper.
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http://cookingwithteamj.com/2017/06/20/caprese-salad/

 

Unicorn cupcake

Unicorn inspired food is all the rage now, and I can totally see why. From unicorn frappuccino at Starbucks to unicorn grilled cheese – they all have one thing in common – they’re super instagram worthy!

And what’s not to love about them? They’re so colorful they can brighten up anybody’s day.

Recently I noticed a lot of people posting about unicorn cakes. As much as I love decorating cakes, I cannot eat it all and I definitely do not have enough butter to make enough buttercream frosting to decorate it all. As a compromise, I decided to make unicorn cupcakes instead.

Ever since I made the hydrangea cupcakes, I’ve been obsessed with making buttercream frosting with mixed colors. These pastel colors are absolutely beautiful when combined!

In order to make the horn and the ears for the cupcake, I used homemade marshmallow fondant with some of it dyed pink for the inner part of the ears. To make the horn, I took some white fondant and rolled it into 2 thin cone shapes. Then, I twisted them around each other to form a horn. When it got too long, I just cut off the rest. I then dipped a toothpick in some water and inserted it into the ends of the horn so that I can insert it into the cupcake later. In order to make the golden horns, I mixed some gold lustre dust in a bit of water to form a little paste and painted it onto the horns. Allow to dry for an hour.

To make the ears, cut the white and pink fondant into circles. You can use a small cookie cutter to do this but since I didn’t have one, I used the opening of some piping tips instead. The white fondant circles should be larger than the pink ones because they form the main part of the ears.

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Scalloped Potatoes Recipe

If you want to make a side dish to impress your family and friends, this scalloped potatoes recipe is the way to go.

After a really long week at work, nothing takes my mind off the stress than cooking and baking. I feel bad for neglecting my blog for such a long time and I feel like I’m not updating as much as I could. This is partially due to my busy work schedule, and partially due to the fact that when the weekend finally rolls around, I’m so exhausted that all I want to do is relax and do nothing. Not to mention, adulting nowadays consist of hanging out with family and friends so we don’t cook at home as much since we usually go out to eat.

I guess you could argue that we could cook for them but our condo is pretty small and it’s hard to accommodate a lot of people.

Since we were entertaining family this weekend, I was motivated to think of a dinner menu which we don’t normally cook. Instead of having mashed or baked potatoes with our steak, I decided to make scalloped potatoes instead. Besides, we bought all this whole milk as it was on sale last week that it made sense to use it up before it went bad.

To find out how to make this dish, refer to the recipe below:

Scalloped Potatoes Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 4

Scalloped Potatoes Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 russet potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1⁄2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • a pinch of smoked paprika
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • freshly ground black pepper (season to taste)
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a small sauce pan over medium high heat, melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux. Stir for a few minutes unill it thickens and turns as light nutty brown in color.
  3. Add the cold milk, stirring with a whisk to eliminate any lumps.
  4. Season with salt, nutmeg, freshly ground pepper, and smoked paprika.
  5. Cook sauce on low until smooth and boiling, stirring occasionally with a whisk. Once the sauce has thickened, stir in the cheese.
  6. In a lightly greased 13 x 9 rectangular baking tray, layer the thinly sliced potatoes all over the bottom of the baking tray.
  7. Pour a thin layer of the sauce over the potatoes. Then, repeat with a second layer of potatoes and cheese sauce. Continue until you've used up all your potatoes/sauce.You may top the rest of the potatoes with an extra layer of grated cheese if you wish.
  8. Bake uncovered for about 1 hour at 350°F or until the top is golden brown.
  9. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh thyme and serve immediately.
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http://cookingwithteamj.com/2017/06/10/scalloped-potatoes-recipe/

Rosemary Garlic Focaccia Recipe

Father’s day is coming up in a couple of weeks and I am scrambling to figure out how to celebrate with my dad. My parents hate celebrating mother’s day/father’s day on the actual weekend because restaurants are always super busy and service is generally not as good as normal due to the additional patrons the restaurant has to attend to.

So instead of fighting the crowd, I always have to end up celebrating with them a week in advance. Since I’m busy next weekend, I have to celebrate 2 weeks early. My dad loves it whenever I make him anything from scratch – I guess he appreciates the extra effort and care I put into the dish other than just giving him something material…. Which works for me because this gives me an opportunity to practice my cooking and baking skills.

As part of the full course meal which I planned for him, one of the starting dishes was of course, warm bread 🙂

Since the weather has been getting warmer, we bought a lot of starter plants to build our herb garden. As they continue to grow, I needed an excuse to use them so I can trim them back to increase their yield. I immediately thought of making this Rosemary Garlic Focaccia because I had it in the past and it was delish.

The great thing about focaccia is that it is very versatile – you can add whatever toppings you like.

Prior to allowing the dough go through a second proof, use both hands and dimple the dough with your fingers to evenly spread the dough out and give it its signature dimple appearance. Then, generously season the dough with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I thinly sliced up some garlic and sprinkled it all over the dough, along with some freshly chopped rosemary. Finally, I generously drizzled the dough with some olive oil. The bread cooks best when the herbs are coated in olive oil.

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Hydrangea Cupcake

A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed when I stumbled across one of those short cooking/baking tutorial videos. I generally don’t pay too much attention to those videos but that video caught my eye because the Hydrangea cupcake they were making was so gorgeous and stunning. Most of all, it looked pretty easy to pipe. The only tricky part was figuring out how to get those beautiful colors because each flower consisted of two colors.

I was actually really excited to learn how to make this because I was starting to get bored with what I was baking. Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake but sometimes it feels like I’m always making the same thing. With cupcake or cake decorating, at least I can be creative in terms of how the final presentation looks. Besides, people always eat with their eyes first and even if my baking is horrendous, I can always compensate with a visually appealing dessert 🙂

For this type of flower cupcake, they usually call for a 5 star closed tip piping tip. Unfortunately, I purchased the wrong one a while back because I didn’t know enough about piping tips so I had the 8 star closed piping tip. In the end, it achieved a similar result but I don’t think it looks as nice as if I had the 5 starred one. I will have to get myself a Wilton 1B piping tip next time!

To find out how I was able to achieve the mixed color buttercream, check out my upcoming post on how I make unicorn cupcakes.