Tis the season for holiday baking! I love to bake all year round regardless of the time of year but I feel extra festive during Christmas 🙂
One of my favourite holiday treats are gingerbread cookies. I love the kick that the spices have to offer and the opportunity to decorate them make it extra fun. While I was browsing Pinterest (my muse and inspirational god), I stumbled across gingerbread bars and thought “Oh how cool is that, I’ve never really made a cookie bar before” and given all the Christmas dinners we have coming up, now is the best time to make them.
These gingerbread cookie bars have the texture of a chewy brownie and the flavour of a gingerbread cookie. They actually taste fine on their own but if you want to be extra festive, the cream cheese frosting serves a a beautiful canvas to your holiday garnishing/decorations. I opted for the christmas-y sprinkles and crushed candy canes.
We have a lot of friends who don’t like cream cheese (or frosting for that matter) so I decided to half the batch of cream cheese frosting so that some bars have it while others don’t. It worked out really well!
I would’ve eaten more bars but today was full of non-stop eating. However, I always have an extra stomach just for dessert and was able to squeeze in a small piece but I just wish I had space to eat more 🙁
This is going to be a tough month with all the christmas dinners and gatherings – I’ll be busting at the seams 24/7. Does not help that my gym membership is also expiring end of this year…. O_O
To find out how I made these bars, see recipe below which I adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything.I increased the amount of ground ginger by 1/2 tsp as I personally like it more gingery. I also halved the cream cheese frosting recipe listed below given a number of our friends don’t like it.
It has been a while since our last blog post. A lot has happened since then – we got engaged, we went on vacation for 2 weeks to Italy and Greece, and I got a new job!
I think that’s a good reason as to why we’ve been MIA, right?
Anyways, we are back and this time, with a classic Chinese pastry dish – egg tart! This is a very popular item that can typically be ordered at dim sum restaurants or bought at local chinese bakeries. They usually come in two types of crust – puff pastry or cookie crust. I personally prefer the cookie crust but my SO prefers the puff pastry kind.
Given I’m pretty lazy and making puff pastry from scratch is a lot of work (and requires A LOT of butter), I decided to cheat and buy the pre-made stuff (I know – blasphemy!) These frozen tart shells make making egg tarts so much easier. The custard itself is super easy and you can probably make this within 5 minutes. If you’re unsure what treat to bring to your friend’s dinner or potluck and you’re short on time, you can easily gravitate toward this recipe.
To make these egg tarts, whisk together eggs, sugar, milk, water, and salt into a bowl until thoroughly combined. You may have some residual egg whites not fully integrated into your custard mixture – to ensure a smooth batter, be sure to strain the custard mixture into a separate bowl to ensure a smoother custard texture. I like to strain my mixture into a measuring cup because it makes pouring into the tart shells much easier.
Fill them up to the brim and bake them at 365F for approximately 20 minutes.
Last night we met up with our other foodie friends who also loves to cook. They recently bought a Kamado BBQ charcoal grill and have been looking for every opportunity to use it. They kindly invited us over for dinner, having bought some prime ribs and T-bone steak from McEwan’s grocery store, along with some bone marrow.
Knowing our friends would be supplying the mains, we stopped by J town in the morning to pick up some groceries that we felt would be great on the grill. It just so happened that we stumbled across an old man selling fresh Japanese vegetables that morning and decided to pick some up for the BBQ.
Of all the vegetables we bought, we only ended up grilling the Shishito peppers and the tomatoes. If you haven’t had charcoal grilled tomatoes before, you must! It tastes amazing! As for the Shishito peppers (the skinny long ones), did you know approximately 1 in every 10 peppers is spicy? This can be a fun game to play with your friends to see who gets lucky 😉
For dinner, we also made our popular green lettuce salad with roasted tomato vinaigrette. We also added in some fresh pork belly (Bacon), toasted some baguette as crutons, and sliced up some radishes and cucumber for garnish.
Our friends also bought a bunch of bone marrow for approximately $4 each which isn’t bad considering how large they were. We soaked the bone marrow in some salted water first to get rid of all the impurities. After 30 mins or so, we rinsed them and seasoned them with salt and pepper, then topped them with lots of chopped garlic (because we are huge garlic lovers..). We then proceeded to pop them in the charcoal BBQ until the bone marrow was jiggly to the touch as we know that would make a great spreadable consistency.
I must tell you… that bone marrow was so good! When spread on freshly toasted bread, it was the bomb! I tried not to think about how bad that must be for my arteries… but they always say the better it tastes… the worser it is for your health 🙁 …
The T bone steak and prime ribs were done very well too. We used the reverse sear method and finished it off on the flaming grill.
If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll know that chicken and duck went on sale for us last week and we stocked up quite a bit…
With all this poultry that is enough to last us a a couple of months, we had think of different recipes to make with it. One easy one we could think of was Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken). It just required a simple marinade and a light dusting of potato starch before deep frying.
We made this a while back using a different recipe which you can read about here and although J could barely taste a difference, I personally prefer this recipe more as I felt that the chicken had more flavour than the other recipe.
We had some friends over for dinner this weekend and considering we are trying to refine our Japanese cooking skills, we decided to have a Japanese themed dinner.
We started off our morning gathering all of our ingredients. One of the dishes we wanted to make was Miso Clam Soup so naturally, we had to get some fresh clams.
Diana’s seafood was our go to fish market for this – it’s pretty far from where we live but we can always count on them for having the largest variety of the freshest fish.
We picked up a few items from there but we can post about those later 🙂 We picked up two types of clams for our soup since we wanted to mix it up a bit: Littleneck and savoury clams.
People often store their clams by throwing the closed bag in the fridge or soaking them in water until they’re ready to use. This is not the best way to store your clams as you are at risk of killing them. Clams need to breathe so the first thing you should do when you are home is to open up the bag. Although it is perfectly normal to soak the clams for an hour or so to help them purge the sand they were sucking in from the ocean floor, they should not be soaking in water for any longer than that as clams are not used to living in fresh water.
For those of you who don’t know, one of the main reasons why I decided to start this blog was to keep a running collection of recipes that we’ve tried over the years, capturing the ones we enjoyed the most. Instead of making adjustments to recipes and then not remembering what we did to alter it, it was just so much easier to document it online so that we don’t lose our notes considering how unorganized we are. It also makes looking up a recipe much easier because we tend to make things we like over and over again.
As people who love to cook and bake, we thought this would be a great project for us. Plus, it made sharing recipes with family and friends so much easier. We have decided to try and take this project to the next level with the goal to produce a cookbook within the next year. We aren’t really planning to sell the cookbook, it’s more so something we can see as an accomplishment for ourselves. But who knows, maybe it can one day make it to the bookshelf 🙂
The hardest part was thinking about what the theme of our cookbook would be – considering how much we love Japanese food, it made sense that our first cookbook would be about Japanese cooking. We already have quite a bunch of Japanese recipes on our blog such as Agedashi Tofu, Miso Cod, Ochazuke, and Japanese Strawberry Shortcake just to name a few but it’s time to build on it even more. Stay tuned because you will see lots of Japanese recipes coming up on this blog 🙂
I decided to take the day off today to start working on some recipes and update our blog. The easiest dish that I could think of making was Cold Soba Noodles with Dipping Sauce.
Cold soba noodle is a very popular dish in Japan, especially during the summer months when you want something to cool you down. Typically it is served with Mentsuyu sauce which is a multipurpose sauce used in Japanese cooking. It is often served with noodles and tempura dishes just to name a few. Best of all, this sauce can be made in advance and be stored in the fridge for up to a month. This means the next time you’re hungry for some cold soba noodles, all you need to do is boil the noodles which would take no time at all!
It’s peach season!! Meaning peaches are the sweetest and most cost effective during this time of year 🙂
Not having gone as crazy last year as buying a giant basket of peaches from the farmer’s market where we used it to make our Summer Peach Crumble, we decided to used the peaches we bought from the grocery store to make this Peach and Blueberry crumble as somehow we ended up with 3 pints of blueberries that we barely touched throughout the week…. >_> It worked out pretty well because we had friends come over for dinner and we always prep a full course meal whenever we have people over and a full course meal would not be complete without dessert.
Although there is the option to make peach and blueberry pies instead of crumbles, our personal preference is to have crumble because of the nice texture that it has. Plus, it’s a lot easier to make the crumble from scratch than it is to make pie crust from scratch as it requires less prep time.
To make the peach and blueberry crumble, all you have to do is sprinkle some sugar, cornstarch, some lemon juice and lemon zest onto the peeled peaches and fresh blueberries and toss it around a bit. The corn starch will help thicken the fruit juices up once they are being baked.
This weekend was beautiful in Toronto. For the past month or so, it has been super gloomy and rainy, which sucks because it makes summer less enjoyable. All we want to do is have drinks on the patio or have bbq with friends.
It actually worked out really well that our friend decided to have us over for a bbq this weekend since we haven’t really hung out in a long time. It was like 30 degrees celcius, super sunny, no cloud in the sky – just perfect summer weather. We were tasked to bring some desserts so first thing Saturday morning, I opened up my Bobbette & Belle cookbook to get inspiration on what recipes to make. It also gave me an opportunity to try new recipes as well. I decided to make these ginger cookies as well as my Apple Cinnnamon Coffee Cake.
These cookies actually turned out really well. The first time I made it, the cookies were too crunchy because I cooked it for 15 minutes as per the original recipe. The second time round, I undercooked it a bit for about 12 minutes, and let the dough rest for about 3 more hours in the fridge and it was perfect. These cookies were a bit strong in the ginger/clove flavour in my opinion but you can adjust accordingly.
Overall, I got good feedback on my coffee cake and cookies at the bbq and had lots of fun catching up with friends. Now I have extra cookies leftover so I guess i’ll be bringing them to work 🙂
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
In a separate stand mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (approximately 3 minutes). Add the egg and beat to combine. Slowly dad the molasses and mix until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once.
On low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter mixture, mixing until combined. Do not overmix as it will make the cookies dense. Put the cookie dough in saran wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour, the longer the better.
When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silpat
Scoop small pieces of cookie dough and roll it into a small ball (approximately 1-2 inches) and roll it around in the granulated sugar. Press it out flat slightly on the silpat/parchment paper to give it its cookie shape.
Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes if you want softer, chewier cookies. If you like them a bit crunchier, bake it for 15 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before you dig in. Store in airtight container.
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.
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)
Add in cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla extract into the egg white mixture and fold to combine.
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.
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.
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.
Also, start whipping the whipping cream in a cold bowl.
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!
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.