Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chocolate-Dipped Orange Shortbread Rounds

Ok, I lied. I'm still up and blogging.  I don't have to get up in the morning and I can already hear Chris snoring upstairs, so why not post another recipe or two. :-)
I have a huge weakness for shortbread! YUM!!!!  My mum always made it growing up and I don't think I could get enough!  HHmmm, that must have been why I joined my first gym and started working out like a mad woman!  All for the love of shortbread! :-)  Mental note...must go back to the gym!

Anyhow, I was catching up in my google reader the other day and spotted this delectable looking recipe for chocolate dipped orange shortbread.  It looked awesome and totally worth a try!  (look away now Aggy!!)

The first step was to mix the dough, form it into a log and chill it for about one hour in the fridge.
That done, you cut it into 1/4 inch rounds and place them on baking sheets.  I think I may have cut my rounds too thin and too thick at times.

As I mentioned it's called Chocolate-dipped orange shortbread rounds and can be found on the Culinary Chase blog website. 

The kitchen smelled wonderful as these were baking!  I couldn't wait for them to be finished!  But still more work to do!  I prepared a bowl over a pan of boiling water to melt 2 large bars of Belgian chocolate.
And finally they are ready to dip!
Although, from the feathering around the edges of the appears that I may have added too much butter.  Who would have thought there was such a thing as TOO much butter!!??
As you can imagine...they were OMG delicious!  I was drawn to them every time I walked by the kitchen (this is not a good thing!!)  I kept a few at the house, but thankfully Chris brought the majority of them into work!  Phew!

Vegetarian Pot Stickers & Baked Wontons

Ok, one final post before I head to bed.  Chris has a potluck lunch thing going on at work last week and he mentioned he was down on the list as bringing frozen grocery store quiche.  What??!!!  OMG!!???  You know it didn't take me long to offer to make him something much more presentable to bring in.  As I have the obstacle of few baking pans to deal with (yet I have bought cookie sheets since arriving here), I decided to make items involving wonton skins.  Little did I realize how difficult they would be to buy in small town England.   They don't sell more exotic Asian items in the grocery store here (who knew wonton skins were exotic!!??) so we would have to find a specialty store.  I knew of one shop nearby, so one day when Chris happened to finish early, he offered to drive by there on the way home from work.  They were closed....great.  I scoured the internet when he got home and found another little shop in a town about 10 miles away.  We quickly jumped in the car and raced over to the Happy Gourmet shop in Chelmsford.  I found exactly what I needed and more.  I didn't mention it earlier, but I decided to make several types of wontons. Firstly, I was making Vegetarian Pot Stickers especially for Chris's vegetarian colleague along with two other types of meat filled baked wontons.
The vegetarian ones were delicious and I'm told they were a huge hit at the potluck.  They were super simple as well.  The longest process was just assembling them...and even that didn't take all that long.

Next I made Chicken and Lemongrass wontons.  As you can see the original recipe was for steamed dumplings, but as my bamboo steamer is still in transit, I decided to bake them.  A super simple recipe again and when they were all assembled and ready to bake, I just gave them a light spritz with non-fat cooking spray.

Here's the filling for the chicken lemon grass ones.  Very easy as you can see.
Next I prepared a pork chop filling.  The recipe is called Red-Cooked Pork Chops, but it's not really anything like the red-cooked recipes I've prepared in the past.  That aside, it was delicious!  We had actually prepared porks chops according to this recipe the week before and loved it so much that I decided it would be the perfect filling for the wontons as well.  I cubed the pork and marinated it briefly in the sauce ingredients and then just sauteed the whole lot together in a medium pan.  Once I assembled all the wontons, I believe I baked them for about 12 minutes until brown.
Again, they were so easy!  What a great idea for finger food..great for any buffet, potluck or a wonderful hors d'oeuvre!  I think you could even prepare the filling ingredients days in advance and just assemble them the day of your gathering. These would definitely be an easy last minute appetizer to prepare!

Chris brought them all into work and he said everyone raved about them and gobbled them up.  *smile*  I gave myself a pat on the back for that.  I just love when my cooking goes over well!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Baking Powder Biscuits

My next baking experience was biscuits.  I'd always wanted to make baking powder now that I had the time, why not?!  I honestly can't remember where I got this recipe from, but it must have been somewhere on the internet.  I just don't appear to have bookmarked the site.

I also ran into some problems when I realized how few kitchen items Chris had.  And of course I should have realized that he would never own a single baking item.  Time to improvise!!!
An empty bottle of champagne makes a fantastic rolling pin!  I was pleased at how well it worked.  Next, time to find an alternative for circular cutters.  Drinking glass...check!

So far so good really.
They looked gorgeous baking in the oven...and unfortunately that's where my photos end.  I'm still getting the hang of food blogging and tend to dive into my dishes before I remember to take any photos at all of what I've prepared!!  LOL!!  You can't blame me though....damn, they're THAT good!

Peanut butter cookies

When you think of classic comfort cookies, peanut butter cookies are ones that often pop up in peoples minds I'm sure.  That's exactly what I needed after moving to the England.  Although I was super thrilled to finally be living with my sweetheart, baking is such a comfort for me and I was eager to bake something in the kitchen shortly after I arrived.  Of course when I arrived it was to a house full of guests...Chris's former police colleaugues from his UN mission in Kosovo and we had a fabulous time with them, but when they left several days later, off to the grocery store we went and then home to bake cookies!

This particular recipe I found from Brown Eyed Baker.  I regularly follow her site and I think I've done several of her recipes already for this blog.  Her recipes are always fantastic and super easy to follow...not to mention always delicious!

This recipe is called Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies and unfortunately I had to make one big change to the recipe..I omitted the Hershey kisses.  Not because I wanted to though, but because Hershey kisses are impossible to find here in England.  I did read an article the other day though that apparently said Hershey kisses may be available at ASDA starting next year.  We shall see.  Honestly, I find the chocolate available here far superior from anything I found in North America..but I still love the shape of kisses!  And they would have been perfect for these cookies!

Of course I mixed up the ingredients first.  I never realized how much I loved having small kitchen appliances such as my hand mixer, until I didn't.  Damn....I already have a tender elbow from pushing myself to hard during my move...but man, I think I made it worse while trying to cream butter and sugar together.  I managed in the end though.
After the batter was mixed, I then had to form it all into little balls and roll them in sugar.

Once they were all rolled and sugared..ready for the oven.
I was quite pleased with this recipe, although mine came out very crispy and flaky.  You would take a nibble and they would almost break apart on you.  That wasn't a problem though because they were still a wicked and treat and absolutely yummy with a cup of tea!
Thanks Brown Eyed Baker once again!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thai red curry chicken with coconut rice

So I am still catching up on posting the items Chris and I prepared together during his visit.  This particular dish was our most favourite to cook together and we would make it each and every time he was in Montreal.  It really is the best red curry recipe I have ever tried..not that I've tried all that many, but it is super flavourful!   We would also prepare the coconut rice along with it..just another boost of flavour to the dish.
The only bit of the recipe I changed was by adding some bell peppers to the dish, which it didn't call for.  A good addition I think though.  I wish I could post the recipes for these, but all my cook books are packed up in some box at the moment somewhere traversing the Atlantic.  However, here is a photo of the cover, which I remembered to take when we prepared this.  If you ever come across this it!  It's fantastic!!

I can't wait to make this again once my books all arrive!  The trick will be trying to find some of the ingredients here though.  Hhmmm, I see a trip into London in my future!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cake pops!

Now that I've finally done the big move to England (from Canada) and can decompress and relax, it's time to catch up on my blog!  I've had many opportunities to cook and bake and now to share these wonderful treats with you!
Before I left Montreal I planned a final party at the house for some of my friends. What a perfect opportunity to get creative in the kitchen! :-)  I'd seen the Bakerella webpage many times and was in awe of this woman's creativity!  And then I saw her Smiley Face Cake Pops and I knew I had to attempt making them!  I started these with Chris when he was still in town visiting.  We prepared the cake mix, crumbled it and rolled about 50 little cake balls.  We then had trouble with the candy coating I'd bought.  The food colouring didn't seem to mix well with the vanilla wafers and it dried very lumpy...not to mention I think I cooked it in the microwave while trying to melt more.  We only did about a half dozen to test them out..and ate them all!  They didn't look pretty, but still tasted great.  I kept the remaining chocolate balls in the freezer until my mum arrived the following week because she was bringing me large bags of proper yellow candy coating! Thanks Mum!  We busied ourselves melting the wafers and dipping all the remaining balls.

I don't know how Bakerella got her coating to be so smooth!?  This recipe was much more challening than I thought it would be.  Also, the edible markers I bought to draw my smiley faces with didn't seem to write well.  We managed a couple and then just gave up.  Then I couldn't find a piece of styrofoam to display the pops, so we found a vase to display them perfectly.  In the end they were a huge hit at the party and I got rave reviews from everyone who tried them!