Friday, June 24th, 2016

Posture collar.

Filed under: random — alison @ 14:46

posture collar

posture collar

The front boning channels are off. Don’t know how that happened. Fun anyway.

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

chocolate and cherry Valentine cupcakes

Filed under: random — alison @ 11:20

(inspired by Roz Cummins, liberally adapted from Rombauer & Becker’s Devil’s Food Cake Cockaigne)

My beloved was going to make me a chocolate cake for valentine’s day but was too utterly pooped, so I made him chocolate cherry cupcakes. I couldn’t find a recipe that was just right so I hauled out the Joy of Cooking and made some up just right.

Prepare chocolate cherry custard:

140 g (5 oz) chocolate, 85% cocoa
300 mL (1¼ cups) milk
135 g (160 mL, ⅔ cup) brown sugar
1 egg yolk (set the white aside in a glass bowl to beat later)
500 g (500 mL, 2 cups) frozen cherries

Heat chocolate, milk and sugar in a double boiler until chocolate is melted. Mix in egg yolk and continue cooking until slightly thickened. Stir in cherries. Set aside.

Prepare dry ingredients:

180 g (350 mL, 1½ cups) whole wheat flour
90 g (120 mL, ½ cup) cocoa
7 mL (1½ t) baking powder
3 mL (½ t) salt

Combine all dry ingredients, sifting if necessary to break up lumps of cocoa.

Prepare butter cream in a large bowl:

115 g (120 mL, ½ cup) butter
100 g (120 mL, ½ cup) sugar
2 egg yolks (add the whites to the glass bowl with the other)
5 mL (1 t) almond extract

Beat the butter until soft. Add sugar and cream until light. Beat in egg yolks and almond extract.

Add dry ingredients and chocolate-cherry custard to butter cream. Mix thoroughly.

Lick the beaters, wash them with soap and hot water, rinse well and proceed to whip the egg whites, stabilizing them toward the end with:

2 mL (¼ t) cream of tartar

Fold half the egg whites into the batter. Fold in the other half of the egg whites. Bake in silicone cupcake cups or muffin tins at 180C (350F) for 25 minutes. Makes 24 cupcakes.

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Moist orange flax muffins

Filed under: random — alison @ 15:50

I offered these very ugly muffins at brunch today and our lovely and delightful guests were brave enough to try them and kind enough to approve them. The ingredients list looks worryingly stodgy but the inclusion of whole oranges makes them moist and flavourful. They freeze well, which is good because they are very dense. Your batch of muffins will be savoured slowly, not disappeared in an afternoon.

Served with cheese, one or two muffins are breakfast or lunch.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl:

1 c/ 60 g wheat bran
1½ c/ 155 g oat bran
1 c/ 165 g whole wheat flour
1 c/ 175 g flax seed, ground in a coffee grinder
½ c/ 35 g milk powder (or just use milk instead of water for the wet ingredients)
⅔ c/ 135 g brown sugar
2 t/ 10 mL baking powder
½ t/ 3 mL salt

Stir in:

2 c/ 330 g dried fruit (golden raisins, cranberries, apricots and/or dates)
2 c/ 140 g chopped almonds or walnuts

Combine wet ingredients in a food processor and whizz:

3 or 4 whole oranges, washed, quartered and seeded
1 c/ 250 mL water (or milk, if there’s no milk powder in the dry ingredients)
½ c/ 125 mL canola oil
3 eggs

Pour wet ingredients into dry mixture and combine well. Fill paper-lined muffin tins or silicone muffin cups almost to the top. Bake at 375F/190C for 30 minutes. Let cool in tins/cups for five minutes before moving to cooling rack.

Makes about 24 muffins.

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Torta Ljiljana, more succinctly

Filed under: random — alison @ 01:35

Like a lasagne, only dessert.

1 packet dried yeast or equivalent
¼ c warm water
½ c room-temperature sour cream
¾ lb or 375 g soft butter
4 large egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)
4 c flour
• Dissolve yeast in water, combine with sour cream.
• Cream butter. Beat in wet ingredients. Fold in flour.
• Divide dough into three portions. Cover in plastic and let rest 20 minutes.

Nut layer
16 oz, 1 lb or 500 g walnuts, ground
¾ c sugar
1 t cinnamon
½ t nutmeg
• Combine.

Apricot layer
3 c apricot filling

Assemble Torta
• Roll pastry dough out into three rectangles the size of your cookie sheet.
• In cookie sheet, stack (from the bottom up):
— Pastry
— Nut mixture (set aside ½ cup nut mixture for topping)
— Pastry
— Apricot filling
— Pastry
• Bake 40 minutes at 350°F/180°C.

4 large egg whites
⅛ t cream of tartar
½ c sugar
• Make meringue and spread it over the hot torta as it comes out of the oven.
• Top with remaining ½ cup of nut mixture.
• Bake 12 minutes at 400°F/200°C.

Cut into diamonds when cool.

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

Torta Ljiljana

Filed under: random — alison @ 19:29

In honour of my friend Lilian who is heading off to parts New York next week, I made a serbian dessert for her send-off tea party. She said the pastry was familiar but the meringue was a novelty. “Must be a regional thing,” says Lilian diplomatically. Whatever, it was a hit. People asked to take some home with them.

A layer of nuts and a layer of fruit are stacked between three layers of doughy pastry and topped with meringue. The result is something between baklava and that polish poppyseed roll — makowiec — only with fruit instead of honey.

Torta Ljiljana

Cookie sheet with a lip, about 18″ x 12″ or 45 cm x 30 cm
4 pieces of parchment a little bigger than the cookie sheet
Electric mixer or manual eggbeater for meringue
Blender, small food processor or coffee grinder for grinding walnuts

2¼ t dried yeast
¼ c warm water
½ c room-temperature sour cream
¾ lb or 375 g soft butter (I accidentally used a whole pound of butter. It was fine.)
4 large egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)
4 c flour (Since this was the first time I was making it and I didn’t know what to expect, I used the all-purpose flour called for in the recipe. Next time I’ll use whole wheat flour.)

Nut layer
16 oz, 1 lb or 500 g walnuts
¾ c sugar
1 t cinnamon
½ t grated nutmeg

Apricot layer
16 oz or 500 g of apricot jam (the extra fruit kind is best)
8 oz, ½ lb or 275 g dried apricots
2 T cornstarch
1 t almond extract
2 T Grand Marnier or Triple Sec

4 large egg whites
⅛ t cream of tartar
½ c sugar

Make the pastry:
1) In a small glass, sprinkle the yeast over the water and let it sit 15 minutes or so until it dissolves.
2) Put the sour cream in a small bowl and warm it gently in the microwave to room temperature or a little above.
3) Stir the yeast into the sour cream and set aside.
4) Cream the butter in a large bowl. The easiest way is to soften the butter gently — don’t melt it! — in the microwave on low power first and then beat it until fluffy with an electric mixer.
5) Beat in the egg yolks.
6) Beat in the yeast and sour cream mixture.
7) Mix in the flour with a wooden spoon.
8) Make three balls out of the dough, wrap them in plastic and let sit for at least 20 minutes while you prepare the nut and fruit layers.

Make the fruit filling:
1) Empty the jam into a small saucepan on low heat.
2) Chop the apricots finely and stir into the jam.
3) Stir in the cornstarch until it dissolves.
4) Keep stirring so the fruit doesn’t burn. When the mixture has started to bubble nicely, take it off the heat.
5) Stir in the almond flavouring and the liqueur.

Make the nut filling:
1) Grind the walnuts finely in a blender or small food processor, ¼ cup at a time.
2) In a medium bowl, mix the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
3) Set aside ½ c of this mixture for the topping.

Assemble the torta:
1) Heat oven to 350F or 180C.
2) Roll out one ball of pastry dough between two sheets of parchment into a thin rectangle the size of your cookie sheet.
3) Peel off the top sheet of parchment and place the rolled-out pastry into the cookie sheet, leaving it on the bottom sheet of parchment.
4) Spread the nut mixture (except for the ½ c you set aside) evenly over the pastry, right to the edges.
5) Roll out the second ball of pastry dough between two sheets of parchment into a thin rectangle the size of your cookie sheet.
6) Peel off the top sheet of parchment and invert the rolled-out pastry onto the nuts. Peel off the second sheet of parchment.
7) Spread the fruit mixture evenly over the pastry, right to the edges.
8) Roll out the third ball of pastry dough between two sheets of parchment into a thin rectangle the size of your cookie sheet.
9) Peel off the top sheet of parchment and invert the rolled-out pastry onto the fruit. Peel off the second sheet of parchment.
10) Bake 40 minutes.

Meringue topping:
1) About 5 minutes before you take the torta out of the oven, beat the egg whites until they form slightly droopy peaks.
2) Beat in the cream of tartar and the sugar.
3) Remove the torta from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 400F or 200C.
4) Spread the meringue over the hot torta, evenly and right to the edges.
5) Sprinkle the meringue with reserved nut mixture, evenly and right to the edges.
6) Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

1) Remove the torta from the oven and cool the cookie sheet with the torta on a rack or balanced on something so that air can circulate above and below.
2) When cool, cut into diamond shapes.

Adapted from:

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Shortbread cookies

Filed under: random — alison @ 13:05

My mother made these every year from a hand-written card in her recipe box. I don’t know if it’s the best, but it’s what christmas cookies mean to me. Missing are the instructions to cut the cookies out with a cookie-cutter after rolling out the dough, and to decorate the cookies with a bit of red or green glacé cherry in the middle before baking. Personally my favourite cookie-cutter is a small tomato paste tin with both ends cut out.

I used to use “cultured unsalted butter” thinking it would add a delicate sour-cream flavour, but people complained the cookies tasted cheesy. I think plain (sweet) unsalted butter would suit the sophisticated palate best though my mother used ordinary salted butter.

225 g/ 1 c butter
125 mL/ ½ c icing sugar
500 mL/ 2 c all-purpose flour OR
      500 m
L all-purpose flour + 50 mL rice flour
      (2 c – 3 T all-purpose flour) + (3 T rice flour)

¼ t baking powder
¼ t salt

Work butter, add sugar.
Sift dry ingredients. Add. Work together. Roll out.
Grease sheet lightly. Bake at 150°C/ 300°F 15–20 min till brown on bottom only.

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