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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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/

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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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.

Turtle Bread – Melon pan recipe

I remember the first time I saw melon pan on cookingwithdog (a japanese cooking channel on youtube), I thought this bread was melon flavoured. Surprisingly, it did not contain any melon at all. I believe it got its name based on the way it looks, similar to how chinese pineapple buns got its name.

I’ve always been curious to try them but was too lazy to make it. I got to try it when I went J-town (Japan town) but instead, I had the matcha version of it in the form of a turtle bread. I thought it looked so adorable that I wanted to try making it myself. A few years later, after a few online tutorials, I finally got around to making this turtle bread.

Turtle Bread

Melon Pan

I actually had to make this recipe twice because I messed up the first time round. I also realized things I could’ve done better.

The first time I made this, I followed the instructions from cookingwithdog to a T. The problem was they used instant yeast in that recipe whereas I had active yeast. I soon learned that you have to activate the active yeast in water first before I could use it whereas with instant yeast, you could just mix it in with your dry ingredients right away. I also failed to dissolve the dry milk powder in warm liquid leaving my dough with a strange grainy texture.

When I made this the second time round, I activated the yeast in warm water. I also dissolved the dry milk powder in there as well to get rid of that grainy texture. The dough was much better the second time round.

After the dough has completed its first proof, I put on the turtle backs. I simply added some matcha powder to the cookie dough recipe to help give its signature green color. Though the original recipe said that I should keep it in the fridge so that it’s easier to handle, I found it easier for them to be a bit warm so that it’s more malleable.

cookie dough

I wrapped the cookie dough around the proofed dough and dipped the turtle shell in sugar.

Wrapping the dough

After coating it with sugar, I scored the turtle shell with its signature diamond pattern using a pastry cutter.

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Cream Puff Recipe

I wasn’t always a fan of cream puffs. However, over the last couple of months, we’ve been frequently some of our favourite local cafe and bakery in our neighborhood and one of the pastries that has always seem to attract my attention were the ones made with a Pâte à Choux base. Whether it be cream puffs or eclairs, these desserts have inspired me to attempt to make them myself so that we can stop spending all our disposable income on these desserts XD

Thanks to my trusty Ladurée cook book that I bought last year, I had a point of reference to make my pastry cream. Being unsatisfied with their Pâte à Choux recipe, I decided to try another which turned out a lot better (the choux just had more flavour overall).

Cream Puffs

This dessert is actually not very hard to make though it can be time consuming as you have to dry the Pâte à Choux out in the oven, and then wait for your pastry cream to cool before you can actually use it. But once you have this base recipe down, you can actually adjust the pastry cream flavour to your liking. I went ahead and made a matcha variation of it that turned out quite well!

Matcha cream puff

To view the full recipe, see below.

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Summer Peach Crumble

One of our favourite things to do on a weekend is visit St. Lawrence Market. Every Saturday, we visit the Farmer’s market there to see what fresh produce they have available. Now that it’s summer, it’s exciting to see what’s in season and it’s always so refreshing to see all the vibrant colors of the different fruits and vegetables they have available. Although the produce looks super fresh and amazing, they’re often very expensive 🙁  We decided to go closer to the end of day to the farmer’s market to see if we could get an end of day sale and lucky for us, one of the vendors sold us a giant basket of peaches for a fraction of the price!

Peaches

We were ecstatic! But the moment we got home, we realized how many peaches we had and there’s no way we could finish it all in a week…. So we tried to think of a few recipes we could make that would use up these peaches and one of them was peach crumble.

Peach crumbleInstead of making it in a traditional baking dish, I decided to make them in individual ramekins instead so that it’s easier to serve since it’s already portioned for each person. The dish itself is pretty easy to make – I kinda improvised the measurements for the filling.

Here’s how to make it:

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Apple Roses

This has got to be the easiest dish to make. Every time I see someone make rose anything, I worry that it’ll be super intricate and difficult. If you’ve ever tried to learn how to make rose origami, you’d understand. Luckily, this was really easy – I’m pretty sure a 6 year old can do it.

I saw this recipe on Youtube by Chef John. I love this guy – he’s hilarious and his recipes are usually pretty spot on. The great thing about this is that you can easily WOW people with this because they will probably be thinking “Wow you made that? It looks impressive!” when really you’re thinking to yourself “I made that in 5 minutes”. So if you’re bored of your traditional apple pastries, try this!

Apple Rose

All you need is some puff pastry (I bought mine pre-made) and some red apples (I used Fuji apples). That’s more or less it!