Thursday, 28 April 2011

Baking Insanity

This message will be brief as it is already 2:30 am (running a little late ; P ) and I am typing with one hand, given a very ungainly spill in the park this morning while running that has left me annoyingly slower than usual.
Regardless of my lack of normal speed, today's multitasking has finally finished, albeit later than originally planned.  All in all, I have tackled a new raspberry scone recipe (I added the raspberries in but you can use pretty much any fruit you want) and sugar cookie recipe, followed by a hopefully successful frosting recipe tomorrow morning.
Here's to a bit of sleep and a lovely day, celebrating the royal wedding with a good dose of my baking insanity thrown in for good measure.
Ps. The caramel shortbread bars turned out great!  The most helpful comments were the ones that suggested letting the chocolate cool before pouring it onto the colder caramel and bringing them up to room temperature before cutting them.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Caramel Chocolate Shotbread

Tonight I am starting on this classic recipe for a British treat to be served at the royal wedding (I cringe to say that) party on Friday.  It's an easy but quite long process so though I am not looking forward to it terribly much, they should be incredibly tasty when they're done and perfect for Friday!
Tomorrow will be more late night baking so that I can take full advantage of sleeping in on Friday.  I'll keep you posted on my delicious insanity; wish me luck!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Macarons, Cupcakes, and Holidays!

As any of my close friends can tell you, I absolutely love holidays and the next one is always my favorite.  In just a few weeks I'll get extra lucky with Easter and the Royal Wedding both in the same week!  Now a lot of people don't think much of the wedding but for me it's another excuse to entertain and try out new recipes.

These arrived today and are perfect for the coming festivities.  Ever since I ordered the cookie cutters, i've been contemplating festive sugar cookies and royal icing as seen here on Cupcakes and Cashmere.  I still have so much work to do before then but I know i'll spend the next week sifting through these books and drawing up lists of finger food, creative desserts, and traditional English sweets in my head for both occasions.  If you have any suggestions, feel free to chime in!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Tomato, Mushroom, and Sausage Pasta

Ok, so this isn't exactly what was in my pasta recipe but I loved the picture so much that I couldn't resist using it.  If only my presentation was that neat on a regular basis!

As I procrastinated this morning by watching "Under the Tuscan Sun," I realized that perhaps I have a slight Italian addiction of late.  Maybe it is the good weather or perhaps my time in Italy left me more homesick than my time in France, which would surprise even me.  These are my top two favorite countries; i've lived in both and cannot get enough of either but in hindsight, I think Italy might be pulling ahead.  Yesterday I watched "Letters to Juliet," a cute movie that takes place in Verona, today was "Under the Tuscan Sun," shot not far from my village, and when I think about it, three out of my four go to movies these days are Italian.

The recipe I promised above is more of the same, I seem to be in love with pastas reminiscent of those I cooked up in Italy on warm evenings with all the doors and windows open.

So, going with my Italian theme, tonight I put some tagliatelle on while I chopped up vegan sausage (it tastes like real sausage!), tomatoes, and baby portobello mushrooms, sauteed them in a bit of oil, and then added a small container of soya coffee creamer, and seasoned it with pepper, garlic, salt, and oregano before I threw in the pasta.
Pasta in a cream sauce with mushrooms at a restaurant
in Viterbo.
I know the coffee creamer might sound strange but if you're looking for an easy vegan pasta sauce that is not tomato based, all you need is a bit of soy, liquid coffee creamer as a base and it will soak up the light flavor of the mushrooms or whatever you want to add.  The creamer is my substitute for the Italian Panna Cotta which is a thick cream that starts out flavorless and develops a light, alfredo taste as it simmers but you can flavor it anyway you wish.  The spices I used, come from the standard seasonings of the part of Italy in which I lived.  The rules were simple- you never had enough salt or pepper, garlic couldn't hurt, and the light cream base is traditionally served in any seafood or mushroom dish.  As I am vegan, this is probably the closest to seafood I will get but it definitely took me back to risotto and penne al mare.

Try it out and don't be afraid to play with the flavors!  I love pasta because it is so easy to throw anything in and create a new dish and if you use whole wheat pasta, it is actually really healthy.
Pasta with a bag of frozen vegetables and some bread
and olive oil with red wine vinegar; so easy!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Sweet and Sour Mushroom Pasta

I have been hooked on avocado and tomato sandwiches for the past week and a-half so I officially banned myself from them this week in an effort to branch out and explore all the other wonderful dishes out there.  I discovered this super easy sweet and sour sauce recipe while teaching at a Boy Scout  camp a few summers ago and it's never failed.  Most if not all of the cooking supplies you need are probably already in your kitchen and if it doesn't taste right, you just add more of whatever tastes like its missing.
After you make the sauce, add in whatever kind of pasta and fillings you prefer.  I used mushrooms and stir fry vegetables, sauteed in sweet and sour sauce, then stirred into the pasta but the traditional chicken and rice work just as well.  
 Ps.  Don't worry about the MSG in the recipe; i've never used it and the sauce tastes great!