Monday, February 27, 2012

The Daring Bakers' Challenge was Quick!!

Quick breads, that is. Now what is a quick bread? To me, it's a cake baked in a loaf tin. In my family, if something is baked in a loaf tin, it needs butter slathered on it, no matter if there is already butter in it. This was another challenge that wasn't very challenging, but I made 4 quick breads: pumpkin, lemon-yogurt, banana and Nutella swirl. 2 went to a friend, one was all mine and the last one went to my mother's. I didn't stick around, but I bet she put butter on it.
Pumpkin-spelt loaf
I based the recipe on this one, replacing the whole wheat flour with spelt, the olive oil with grapeseed oil, using my own frozen pumpkin puree, and replacing half the cinnamon with ginger. I should really type out the recipe...
Lemon-yogurt loaf
I made this one to take to a friend, so no sliced photos. We had trouble coordinating our schedules, so this sat, wrapped, on my table for 3 or 4 days before I got it delivered. I just unwrapped it and glazed it with a bit of lemon juice and sugar and it was fine. I used this recipe and pretty much followed it. 
Future Nutella swirls?
I like the yogurt cake linked above so much that I made it again, this time replacing the lemon with vanilla, adding chopped roasted hazelnuts and about half a jar of Nutella. I didn't get the swirls I wanted, as the textures were so different--the batter is quite thin. Next time, I would whisk the Nutella into a portion of the batter for better results.
The cake itself was delicious. It tasted rich and buttery without any butter. We ate it in thick slices with  coffee.
Thanks Lis for stepping in and giving us a fun challenge! Here is the challenge PDF, though once again I didn't use any of the recipes. 

Blog-checking lines: The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Llapingachos and Pupusas: The Daring Cooks

Late again, that's me. The Daring Cooks' challenge this month was to make patties of some sort. I must admit, I wasn't too enthused at first, as challenges recently have been less than challenging. I kind of like looking for obscure ingredients and making time consuming dishes. Since that wasn't necessary, I challenged myself to make a dish I had enjoyed in Ecuador and another from El Salvador that I have loved for a long time but never eaten. And you know what? I loved the challenge. I would probably never have got to making either of these things without it. So thanks,  Lisa and Audax!
First up are the llapingachos. I had these as part of my first meal in Ecuador, in Quito and I also had them when I visited Cuenca. They were not common on the coast, but they really hit the spot on those chilly nights at high altitude. And they were fun to order too. Llapingachos are a kind of mashed potato cake, seasoned and coloured with achiote. Inside is melty cheese and they are topped with an interesting array of toppings. First was a warm peanut sauce with hard-boiled egg, pickled onions, tomato and salsa. You can also see the avocado behind, but it just wouldn't fit on top. Actually the llapingachos I had in Ecuador didn't have the peanut sauce but I quite liked the combination.
The melted cheese. Mmm.
Next up was pupusas, something I've been eating for years. Unfortunately they are hard to find here so I don't have them as often as I'd like. Now that I know how easy they are to make, I think they'll be making many more appearances on the table. Pupusas are masa cakes stuffed with any combination of cheese, beans or meat. The ones in the photo have leftover pulled pork in them, but my favourites were the cheese ones. 
The pupusas are topped with curtido, a slightly pickled coleslaw. I also like a bit of plain tomato sauce on mine, but I don't know if that's traditional. The ones in the photos are cracked because I refrigerated them overnight before cooking them, but it really should be done last minute. They only take a few minutes to form and 5 minutes a side to cook.
There's melty cheese in here too. Can you find it?
Thanks to Lisa and Audax for a great challenge. Here is the original challenge pdf, though I didn't use any of the recipes. Click on the names for recipes for llapingachos, peanut sauce, pupusas and curtido.

Blog-checking lines: The Daring Cooks’ February 2012 challenge was hosted by Audax & Lis and they chose to present Patties for their ease of construction, ingredients and deliciousness! We were given several recipes, and learned the different types of binders and cooking methods to produce our own tasty patties!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chocolate Chestnut Cupcakes

Yup, more chestnuts, and more chocolate too. I think they are a nice pair, much better than chocolate and orange. In previous posts, I seem to have implied that I hate chocolate, but that's not the case. I just don't find it very appealing in bar form. But a cake? Mmm. Oh yes,  and I love labour-intensive chestnuts. I am still working on using up the jars of jam and the candied chestnuts. I made these cupcakes one night when some friends came over for dinner. I had planned to make a layer cake filled with the mousse but ran out of time. In fact the cupcakes my guests got didn't look at all like the above. They got the tin of cupcakes, the mixing bowl of mousse and the jar of candied chestnuts in syrup. It was an assemble-your-own kind of evening. I saved this one for the next morning. A single photograph and it became breakfast. Magic.

Chestnut Mousse
Source: The Cake Bible
2 cups whipping cream, chilled
1 cup sweetened chestnut puree with vanilla
rum to taste, optional
  1. Whip cream until soft peaks form, then fold in chestnut puree and rum. Combine well. Whip a bit more if you want stiffer peaks. Keeps chilled for a day or two.

For the cupcakes, I used half the recipe for the German Chocolate Cake, baked for 15-20 minutes at 350.  

To serve, top the cupcakes with the mousse and candied chestnuts, if desired. Makes 12, with a very generous amount of mousse.