No Knead Sourdough Bread Recipe

My journey to making my own Sourdough Bread from scratch was a painful one. It took me 7 days just to prepare my Sourdough starter and another 2 days just to make the bread but it was all worth it to see the end result 🙂 (be prepared to dedicate a whole day to making this…)

The first time I attempted this, my dough didn’t rise at all during the proofing period and the result was a super dense bread with barely any air pockets. I think the problem was that I over hydrated the dough (against my instinct) and the levain wasn’t fully ready yet.

Here’s what I did differently this time round. First, I made sure to feed my starter at least twice a day for 2 days prior to baking to make sure my starter was nice and strong. Then, I prepared my Levain (another term used for sourdough starter):

8am – Prepare the Levain:

  • 45g starter
  • 45g unbleached all purpose flour
  • 45g bread flour
  • 90g warm water (90F)

I followed Joshua Weissman‘s recipe on Youtube for this recipe. Mix everything together in a jar with a loosely fitted lid and allow to ferment for 3-4 hours or until doubled in size. I kept my Levain in my oven with the light turned on which simulated an ideal proofing environment of ~75F. Meanwhile, prepare your Autolyse. This is a stage in bread making where where you hydrate the flour with water and allow to rest to help with gluten development which will ultimately lend to a better rise in the bread.

11am – Autolyse

  • 273g bread flour
  • 500g unbleached all purpose flour
  • 175g whole wheat bread flour
  • 660g warm water (90F)

Once my Levain doubled in size or has tons of bubbles (see photo below), this indicates that it is ready because my starter culture is producing lots of gas.

Continue reading

Bacon Parmesan Gougere (Cheese Puffs) Recipe

As a continuation from our Valentine’s Day dinner post, one of the dishes I made for our appetizers was Bacon Parmesan Gougere. The easiest way to describe a Gougere is a cheese puff. The more technical way of explaining a Gougere is a choux pastry (used to make eclairs, cream puffs etc) made with cheese. They’re typically served as an hors d’oeuvres or it can be served along side soup like a biscuit or a bread.

While I was looking at different French cookbooks to come up with other dishes to accompany our French meal, this recipe came up a few time and it’s hard to turn down a recipe with bacon in it.

This recipe was fairly easy to make. First, I had to make the choux pastry dough by heating up the milk and butter in a small sauce pan over medium high heat and bringing it to a simmer. Then, I added the flour and pinch of salt to the mixture and mixed vigourously until it formed a smooth dough and the mixture no longer sticks to the side of the pan. When done, transfer the dough into a mixing bowl and press it out to the sides of the bowl to help the dough cool down faster. Allow to chill for a few minutes until it is warm to the touch (approximately 5 mins).

Continue reading

Beef Bourguignon – Inspired by Julia Child’s Recipe

This year for Valentine’s Day, I decided to cook the hubby a French inspired meal. To read more about the French meal that I whipped up that night, check out the post here.

For the main dish, I decided to make the infamous Beef Bourguignon, inspired by none other than Julia Child.

I decided to make this dish the day before as I read online that the flavours develop a lot more overnight. It also alleviated the amount of stress work that went into preparing the rest of the dishes the day of the dinner.

First, I preheated the oven to 400F. Then, I paper towel dried my beef to remove all excess moisture (forgot the cut of the meat – we got it from Costco) and cut them into ~2 inch cubes. Season generously with salt and pepper.

In a large stainless steel skillet, add some olive oil and cook the cut up bacon over medium high heat until nice and brown. This will help render out the bacon fat for more flavour. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside for later use.

Now, add in the beef cubes in the pan with all that bacon fat and sear them on all sides until nicely browned. You will likely have to do this in batches as you do not want to overcrowd the pan. Take the beef out and set aside.

Add the onions and carrots and cook them down until onions start to turn brown. In the last minute, add the chopped garlic. Remove everything and set aside.

You’ll notice that a nice fond has developed on the bottom of your pan. It is now time to deglaze it with red wine. I used about 2/3 of a bottle (750ml) of red wine (pinot noir specifically). Scrape all the fond off the bottom of your pan and set aside.

In a dutch oven over medium high heat, add the seared beef, cooked vegetables, bacon, and wine sauce. Then, add in enough beef broth to just cover the beef (for me, approximately 2 cups). Add in thyme, bay leaf, and tomato paste and bring the dish up to a simmer. Quickly do a quick taste test to see if additional seasoning is required. Once satisfied, place in the oven at 325F to braise for approximately 3 hours.

Beef Bourguignon – Inspired by Julia Child's Recipe

Yield: 6 people

Beef Bourguignon - Inspired by Julia Child's Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 strips of thick cut Bacon, cut into small slices
  • 2 lbs Beef, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 3-4 Carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1.5 Yellow Onions, sliced
  • 2 tsp Chopped Garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2/3 of a 750 ml bottle of Red Wine (we used Pinot Noir)
  • ~2 cups of Beef Broth
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1 tsp fresh Thyme leaves
  • 1 Bay leaf

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large stainless steel pan and add the bacon. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned (approximately 8-10mins). Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to set aside for later use. Keep the rendered bacon fat in the pan.
  3. Dry the beef with paper towel and cut into 2 inch cubes. Generously sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In the same pan over medium high heat, sear the beef cubes on all sides until nicely browned. Do this in batches as to not overcrowd the pan. Once browned, remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Add the carrots and onions to the pan and season generously with salt and pepper. Stick occasionally until onion is lightly browned. In the last minute of cooking, add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Remove everything from the pan and set aside.
  5. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and scrape the fond off the bottom of the pan. Save this for later and turn off the heat.
  6. In a large dutch oven (ours was 5.5 qt) over medium high heat, add the seared beef, cooked vegetables and red wine sauce. Top it up with beef broth until it just covers the beef. Add thyme, bay leaf, and tomato paste. Stir and bring to a simmer.
  7. Cover the pot with the lid and place it in the oven to braise for 3 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
  8. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with toasted bread.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://cookingwithteamj.com/2019/02/17/beef-bourguignon/

An Evening in Paris – Valentine’s Day Dinner

This is our first year celebrating Valentine’s Day as a married couple. Not that we do anything special on Valentine’s Day to begin with but this year, I felt like going the extra mile. I decided to make the hubby a full course French meal with the theme of the evening being “An Evening in Paris”.

I found this Valentine’s Day menu template from a blogger and customized it slightly to accommodate the Paris theme. It took me several days of research consisting of looking up various cookbooks to come up with a full course menu. In the end, I settled on the following dishes:

Appetizers

  • Bacon Parmesan Gougère
  • Charcuterie Plate consisting of Tapenade Noire, Pork & Chicken Liver Pâté, Homemade French Bread, and Grapes
  • House Salad

Entrée

Dessert

Chocolate Soufflé with Espresso Crème Anglaise

We started the night with some French music playing in the background to set the mood. We listened to the “French Cafe Lounge” playlist on Spotify which was pretty good! Then we started the evening with the appetizers and a bottle of red wine of course 🙂

Yes, I even busted out napkins – we usually use paper towels but decided to be classy tonight 😉

The Tapenade Noire turned out really good! It only consisted of black olives, anchovies, capers, and olive oil. I should’ve used a food processor but was lazy and ended up using the Vitamix instead with mediocre results. Luckily, it still tasted great. To see the full recipe, click here.

Next was the Bacon and Parmesan Gougère. A gougère is essentially a French cheese puff made with choux pastry mixed with cheese. I added in the bacon to make it extra savoury 🙂 For the full recipe, click here.

For the Main, we had the Beef Bourguignon with Cauliflower Gratin on the side. This Beef Bourguignon recipe was inspired by Julia Child and ended up tasting super delicious! It’s very rich though so it won’t take much to fill you up. For the full recipe, click here.

Lastly, we ended the evening with Chocolate Soufflé. Sadly, we didn’t get a chance to capture this… 🙁 If you’re looking for other ideas for sweets, check out our Chocolate Dipped Pretzel recipe!

And that was it! As expected, this French meal was super rich… lots of cheese and butter haha. We wouldn’t mind having this type of meal once in a while but definitely can’t handle it on a regular basis. Hope you guys give these recipes a try and Bon Appétit!

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels – Valentine’s Day Treat

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Whether you’re celebrating with a special someone today, having a Galentine’s day, or just want to treat yourself, we have the perfect easy treat for you 🙂

This is a great last minute treat to make if you’re scrambling for ideas on what sweet treat to make for your Valentine today. You can either enjoy them yourself or package them up in a nice little treat box or cellophane baggies and give them out as gifts! Either way, you can’t go wrong.

Here are all the ingredients you’ll need:

  • Pretzels
  • White chocolate wafers (any white chocolate will do)
  • Pink chocolate wafers (optional)
  • Pink, red, and white sprinkles

First, melt your white chocolate and pink chocolate wafers in separate bowls. We microwaved ours in a microwave safe bowl in intervals of 30 minutes as to not risk burning the chocolate. After each interval, stir vigorously until the chocolate is fully melted.

Continue reading

Blueberry Crisp Recipe

Several years ago, I stumbled upon and mastered the Apple Crisp recipe which has been my go to dessert. Most people I’ve made this for actually prefer this over Apple Pie and best of all, I feel that there’s less prep work with Apple Crisp as I don’t need to make the pie crust ahead of time.

I’ve since adapted that recipe with other fillings. We bought a bunch of blueberries the other week and since we couldn’t finish them all in time, we decided to make a Blueberry Crisp before they go bad.

To start, combine your pint of blueberries with 1 tbsp of sugar and 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice. Add the zest of half a lemon and 1 tbsp of flour. Toss to coat the blueberries evenly.

Meanwhile – make the crumble topping. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, rolled oats, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the cold butter and with a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the dry mixture until the mixture looks like cornmeal and the butter is cut into really fine pieces and fully integrated with the dry mixture.

Continue reading

Apple Tart Recipe

Almost 3 hours later.. I finally finished making this Apple Tart recipe from Cedric Grolet.

About a year ago, the hubs got me a cookbook from Cedric Grolet. I’ve never heard of him until I got his cookbook but upon looking at some of his recipes, it appears he is a French pastry chef specializing in fruits.

Sadly, this was he easiest recipe I could find in the book that I dared attempt and the preparation process still took forever 🙁 Luckily I cleared my schedule today to do this!

Continue reading

Mini Pumpkin Pies (Tarts)

Nothing says Fall is here than Pumpkins! It’s that time of year again and pumpkins are everywhere – whether it be for Halloween or in the form of Pumpkin Spiced flavored food and drinks. My favourite pumpkin dish would have to be Pumpkin Pie. It’s kind of sad because a lot of people I know don’t actually like Pumpkin pie and as a result, I rarely get to eat any of it 🙁

So what I like to do is make mini pumpkin pies (or tarts) so that it’s bite size to allow for portion control.

I like to make a batch of pre-made pie crust and pumpkin pie filling and just freeze them (already portioned) so that whenever I’m craving pies, I can just easily assemble them. In this case, I can easily assemble these pumpkin tarts! The filling is very easy to make and I like to re-use my pie tart recipe that I’ve used in other recipes like my Apple Hand Pies.

For the filling, all you need is a can of pumpkin puree, 2 eggs, and a can of sweetened condensed milk.

For the pumpkin puree, I cooked it over the stove for a bit along with the spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves,  ginger, salt) to help the flavors meld a bit better and to get rid of the “canned” taste.

I set it aside and let it cool. Once cooled, I combine it with the condensed milk and eggs and whisk until thoroughly combined.

Continue reading

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies – Fall Recipe

Living in Toronto, we experience erratic weather changes. Although Fall officially began last month, we had temperatures close to 15-20 degrees Celcius for the past several weeks and recently, temperatures have dipped to around 5 degrees! It’s like we just skipped Fall and went straight to Winter…

Anyways, I’m not quite ready for Fall to be over yet so I recently started baking some Fall recipes. One of the few recipes I wanted to try were these White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies. Whenever one hears of cranberries, I feel like they immediately think about Fall – probably due to its association with Thanksgiving dishes (i.e. cranberry sauce)?

Anyhow, I was excited to make these as I usually make the standard Chocolate Chip Cookies. Wanting to switch things up a bit, I leveraged one of our favourite Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe from Serious Eats to use as the base recipe for this cookie. What I like about the Serious Eats recipe is that instead of using regular butter, they use Brown Butter which lends a nuttier, butterscotch flavour than regular butter. Browning butter requires patience and a lot of attention as if you don’t watch it, you might end up burning the milk solids which will affect the overall taste of the brown butter. I cook the butter on medium heat for about 8 minutes, whisking occasionally until it turns golden brown and it starts smelling caramel-y. I aim for this color.

Then, I place an ice cube in there and whisk to facilitate the cooling down process and stick it in the fridge until it has fully cooled. You’ll know it’s cooled when it turns opaque and the sides are starting to solidify.

Continue reading

Unicorn Birthday Cake Recipe

Yesterday, we celebrated our friend’s 30th birthday. Turning 30 is a pretty huge milestone for most people and I wanted to make her a birthday cake that represented her – a unicorn! Because she’s one of a kind 🙂

Originally, I was gonna make her a traditional 3 tiered 6 inch cake for her birthday but we typically stuff ourselves full during dinner and I had a feeling that the 4 of us would not be able to finish all that cake. So as a compromise, I decided to make a mini cake! I think this one is only 3 inches wide but I layered it so it is still 3 layers 🙂 This way, she still gets her unicorn cake but we will likely be able to finish it all!

For this cake, I used my favourite decadent chocolate cake recipe as the base but just halved it since this cake is almost half the size. She specifically requested this cake for her 30th so I couldn’t let her down! It’s definitely my go to cake recipe to date as everyone seems to love it! It’s a very moist cake that’s rich in chocolate flavour – if you haven’t checked it out already I highly encourage you to visit my Decadent Chocolate Coffee Cake recipe here on the blog.

I also previously made Unicorn cupcake which is where I drew the inspiration of the cake decoration from such as the fondant horns and ears. Visit the unicorn cupcake recipe for details on how to make those!

Unicorn Cupcake from my previous post – click to visit!

All in all I’m very happy with my creation! I highly encourage you all to try this and make it for your special someone 🙂