Sunday, 19 February 2012

Banana Cupcakes with White Chocolate Ganache Icing

I made these at Christmas!  They were a little different from the traditional treats and were delicious.  I think they would work well for Easter as well.

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large ripe bananas
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter, softened

6 oz (170g) white chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup whipping cream

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line a muffin pan with 12 paper cupcake liners.  
  • In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt until very well mixed.  Set aside.
  • Put the bananas, sour cream, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor.  Blend until completely smooth, scraping down the sides once or twice.  Add the butter and continue to puree until smooth and creamy yellow in colour.
  • Pour banana mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients.  Beat with an electric mixer for 1 to 2 minutes or until the batter is smooth and creamy.  Spoon into cupcake liners, filling them equally - the batter will come nearly to the top.  Place in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned and a toothpick poked into the middle comes out clean.  Remove cupcakes from the pan and let cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, make the white chocolate ganache icing.  Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl.  Heat the whipping cream by placing it in a microwave-safe measuring cup and zapping for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until boiling.  Pour about half of the hot cream into the bowl with the chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate begins to melt.  Add the remaining cream and continue stirring until the mixture becomes smooth.  If the chocolate doesn't totally melt, place the bowl in the microwave and zap for about 10 seconds at a time until melted.  Don't overcook!  Refrigerate the mixture for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it cools to room temperature and begins to thicken.
  • When ganache is cool, beat with an electric mixer until it forms a thick, creamy almost fluffy - icing.  Working quickly, swirl over the top of cooled banana cupcakes.  Refrigerate until set.

Blueberry Cheesecake

So this is only if you have been REALLY good - there is nothing healthy about it!  But it is delicious

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp melted butter

1/4 cup cold water
1 envelope (1 tbsp) unflavoured gelatin powder
375 g cream cheese, softened
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 cups blueberries, preferably fresh (thawed frozen are ok too)
2/3 cup blueberry jam or preserves
additional fresh blueberries for topping if desired

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. To make the crust:  in a small bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter.  Transfer to a 9 inch spring-form pan and press firmly into the bottom the pan in an even layer.  Place in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  3. For the filling:  measure the water into a small microwave safe bowl and let sit without stirring, for about 10 minutes to let the gelatine soften.  Stir (it will be lumpy, and thats OK), then put into the microwave and zap it on high power for 10 seconds at a time, stirring after each zap, until the gelatine is completely dissolved and the liquid is clear.
  4. In a foot processor, or in a large bowl with a hand held stick blender combine the cream cheese, whipping cream, sugar and lemon juice.  Process until smooth.  Add the blueberries and continue to blend until evenly combined (bits of blueberries should be showing, so don't puree the mixture completely).  Drizzle in the gelatine mixture and blend until everything is thoroughly mixed.  Pour into the cooled graham cracker crust.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or if possible overnight.
  5. An hour or two before serving, spread the blueberry jam evenly over the top of the cheese filling and sprinkle with additional fresh blueberries.  Return to the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 hour or longer before serving.
*from Todays Parent Magazine June 2008

Grilled Sausage and Wheat Berry Salad

This is the first time I have tried Wheat Berries and I have to say they are wonderful!  A little chewy but I really like them.  They are wheat kernels with the outer hull removed.  An excellent source of dietary fibre and are available at the bulk food store.

4 bratwurst sausages - or turkey sausage
1 cup wheat berries
1 cup diced red peppers
1 cup diced, peeled carrots
1 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup finely chopped green onion
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

On greased grill preheated to medium high, grill sausages, turning often, until cooked through - about 15 minutes.  Let cool slightly; slice and set aside.

While the sausages are grilling, cook wheat berries in a large pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until softened - about 40 minutes.  Drain.  Combine in a large bowl with red peppers, carrots, cucumber, green onion, salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Toss gently to combine.  Add sausage and parsley, and toss again.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Plum and Blueberry Shooters

All I can say is yum!

2 Plums, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 cups blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup whipping cream
4 sprigs lemon balm or mint
  1. Toss plums with blueberries and 2 tbsp sugar.  Stir in pomegranate juice.
  2. Combine mascarpone with whipping cream and remaining sugar and stir until incorporated.
  3. Fill each glass halfway with fruit and juice.  Add a layer of mascarpone and top with more fruit and juice.  Top with a sprig of lemon balm or mint.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Bumbleberry Upside Down Cake

This is a very versatile recipe and will work for fresh in season berries as well

½ cup plus 2 tbsp softened butter, divided
½ cup brown sugar
2 ½ cups frozen mixed berries or use the kind of berry you prefer
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup plain yogurt
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Lightly grease an 8 inch square baking dish.
Measure 2 tbsp of the butter into the baking dish and place in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes or until melted.  Remove from oven and swirl butter around to evenly cover the bottom of the dish.  Sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar (don’t mix it), then cover with the frozen berries, spreading them out so they are in a single, even layer.  Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together the remaining ½ cup butter and the granulated sugar until creamy.  Add the eggs and vanilla and continue beating until smooth, about 2 minutes.
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 2 or 3 additions, alternating with the yogurt and beating after each addition.  The batter should be smooth.  Spoon over berries in the baking dish, spreading out evenly.  Place in the oven and bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick poked into the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Let cool for 5 minutes, then run a thin bladed knife around the edge of the pan to loosen and turn the cake out upside down, onto a serving plate.  Serve with ice cream or whipped cream or not!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Snow Pea and Beef Tumble

A quick and delicious meal even the kids enjoy!

1/4 lb (125 g ) rice stick noodles
1 lb (500g) Flank steak
2 tbsp dry sherry or chinese cooking wine or white grape juice
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 clove garlic
4 green onions
1 in pice fresh ginger
1/2 lb (250) g snow peas
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup oyster sauce
2 tbsp low sodium chicken stock

Fill a large pot with cold water and add rice stick noodles.

Slicing against the grain, cut flank steak into very thin bite-size pieces.  In a medium bowl, combine sherry (or your choice of alternative), tamari and sesame oil.  Add flank steak and stir to combine.  Allow to marinate until ready cook (about 15 minutes.

Chop garlic and green onions and place in a small bowl.  Peel ginger and grate finely, adding to the bowl Prep snow peas by tearing or cutting the stem end and pulling off the string.  (if your family prefers their veggies shredded, then cut accordingly).

Heat pot containing water and rice stick noodles at high - they should have soaked for about 30 minutes by now.  When it comes to a boil, check noodles immediately.  As soon as they are tender-soft, turn off heat.

Heat a wok or large frying pan on high and add oil.  Toss in garlic, green onion and ginger mixture and stir fry 30 seconds.  Spread beef, including marinade, in a single layer in the wok and leave to sear for 1 minute or more without disturbing.  Stir.  Add snow peas and stir-fry until beef is no longer pink.  Add oyster sauce and chicken stock, stirring to mix.  Remove wok from heat.

Drain noodles.  Arrange on a large serving plate and top with beef stir fry.  Serve.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Perrier Blue Wave

Great for any celebration

Champagne or sparkling Wine
Blue Curacao
Fill Champagne Flute half full of Perrier and half full of champagne or wine.  Add one float of Blue Curacao.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Brutti Ma Buoni

This is a delicious Italian cookie.  I am told it translates "Ugly but delicious".  This is very true of this cookie, not pretty - but oh so good!

4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups coarsely chopped nougat milk chocolate bar 500 ml
2 tbsp icing sugar
  • In large heatproof bowl over saucepan of gently simmering water, cook egg whites with granulated sugar, whisking occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until opaque.  Remove from heat; beat for about 7 minutes or until cooled, thickened and glossy.  Fold in all purpose flour and vanilla; fold in chocolate.
  • Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart, onto parchment paper lined or greased foil lined rimless baking sheets.  Bake, 1 sheet at a time, in centre of 350F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until light brown.  Let cool on racks.  Sprinkle with icing sugar.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup milk
Peppermint Frosting
  1. Set 22 large paper baking cups in muffin tins.  Sift together butter and sugar.  
  2. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  3. Beat in vanilla.  Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with milk, combining lightly after each addition.  
  4. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans.  Bake in oven preheated to 375 F 20 to 25 min or until done.  
  5. Cool and frost with Cocoa Peppermint Frosting or frosting of choice.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Brown Sugar Pecan Ice Cream

All I can say is DECADENT!

2 cups pecans
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
3 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups well chilled heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a shallow baking pan spread pecans evenly and toast in middle of oven until fragrant and a shade darker, 5 to 6 minutes.  Cool pecans and finely chop.
In a bowl combine well brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt and whisk in eggs until combined.  In a 2 ½ to 3 quart heavy saucepan bring milk just to a boil.  Add hot milk to egg mixture in a slow stream, whisking and pour into pan.  Bring custard to a boil over moderate heat, whisking constantly, and boil, whisking 1 minute.  Stir in vanilla.  Custard will appear curdled.
Chill custard until cold and stir in cream.  Freeze custard in batches if necessary in an ice cream maker.  Transfer ice cream to a large bowl and stir in pecans.  Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden.