Wednesday, 14 March 2012

St. Patrick's Day Nutella filled Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

It's almost St.Patrick's Day which means it's time for drinking to oblivion, getting rich through leprechauns, and all things green!  I thought a lot about what I'd want flavour of green cupcake I wanted to make and had a long debate between Green Tea and Mint. In the end, Mint won because obviously, it is the most delicious! Especially with Chocolate. 

Here's how to make Nutella Filled Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes: 

Ingredients for the Cupcake Base: 
- 1/2 cup of Butter, softened
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup Flour
- 1 an Egg
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 cup of Cocoa Powder
- 1/2 tsp of Baking Soda
- 1/2 tsp of Baking Powder
- A small small pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup of Sugar

Ingredients for the Cupcake Frosting
- 1 cup of Butter
- 4 cups of Confectionary Sugar
- 1 tsp of Vanilla
- Few drops of Mint/Peppermint Extract
- 4 tbs Whipping Cream (I couldn't find anything but Nutriwhip so I had to improvise a little bit- if you don't know how much Whipping Cream/Nutriwhip you should put, try the frosting - if you've ever tasted cupcake frosting, it'll be obvious to you)

Instructions for the cupcake base: 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  1. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Beat together the Butter and the Sugar until fluffy.
  3. In a different bowl, mix together the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and the salt.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture, but alternate between the dry ingredients and the milk - pour half the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture, then the milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients.
  5. Pour the mixture into the muffin cups - fill the muffin cups 3/4 of the way.
  6. Shove into oven and bake for around 15 minutes.
  7. Let cool 2 minutes and fill a decorating bag with Nutella - poke a hole into the top of the cupcake and squeeze the Nutella in.
  8. Let cool some more. 
Instructions for Cupcake frosting: 
  1. Beat together Butter and Sugar until fluffy.
  2. Add the Vanilla and Mint/Peppermint Extract.
  3. Add the whipping cream (you can add it a little bit at a time if you're worried about the consistency of the frosting)
  4. Fill a decorating bag with your delicious frosting.
  5. Make a swirl and start decorating! Add some chocolat chips for extra deliciousness!

Tonight's Dinner? Vegetable Stir Fry!

I love a great stirfry. I love when rice is cooked in chicken broth, and the chicken broth just gets soaked up into the rice in a way that can only be described as exquisite. Despite the fact that it feels like it takes forever to chop up carrots, it's a very quick weeknight meal, and it's absolutely delicious. All you need is: rice, chicken broth (use to cook the rice instead of water), salt and pepper, a little bit of Oyster Sauce and vegetables of your choosing - I used carrots, broccoli, onions and cauliflower. 

Happy Eating!

What's In My Lunch Box? Cod "Meatballs," Wild Rice, Sautéed Asparagus & Bell Peppers

A little intro to the What's In My Lunch Box series:
Bringing lunch to work/school doesn't have to be boring! By marrying the Korean & Japanese art of Doshirak/Bento to a busy North American lifestyle, we will feature delicious home-cooked, healthy, and INTERESTING brown-bag options to bring to work - a lot of flavor and fun that's light on your waistline and your wallet. Bonus: these options feature a lot of items that can be made in 45 minutes or less, or ahead of time and frozen.

In Ines' lunchbox today (lovingly packaged by her Korean mama):

  • Sautéed asparagus & red bell pepper (takes 15 mins or so)
  • Wild & brown rice as a starch (ignore the freaky purple color, it's delicious - about 30 mins in a pressure cooker)
  • Korean-style cod "meatballs," topped with a little Sriracha (actually a kind of "jeon" or egg-coated, pan-fried meat patty sort of thing - made ahead of time (~1 hr for prep) and cooked the day of - about 10 mins)
  • Not pictured: a nectarine, an orange, blackberry Greek yogurt, cucumber crudités as snacks throughout the day (almost no time to prep, just throw them in your lunch bag)

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Coconut-Vanilla Cupcakes with Coconut-Cream Cheese Frosting

so… the other day, i had a sudden craving, no, NEED, to eat something sweet, creamy and soft… so i decided to make these delicious, moist cupcakes.
the secret ingredient in the cupcakes is the coconut milk, which has a higher fat content than regular milk, which gives the cupcakes a decadently rich texture. combined with the slightly tangy, creamy frosting, and the texture of the coconut flakes, this is heaven in little, deliciously edible mounds!
for an even more decadent treat, you could try filling the cupcakes with the frosting, or toasting the coconut topping.
in the summer months, you should keep these refrigerated, because the frosting does have a tendency to be a bit runny in hot weather.
recipe makes 18 to 36 cupcakes, depending on size of mold.

ingredients for base cake:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour*
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder* 
  • 1/2 tsp salt* (* indicates that these ingredients should be mixed and sifted twice) 
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 
  • 1 1/3 cups dark brown sugar, packed 
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature 
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped (if unavailable
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup pure coconut milk, at room temperature (available in the asian section of the grocery store) 
  • 1 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut flakes 
  • 1 cup sweetened dessicated coconut flakes

ingredients for frosting:
  • 4 cups powdered sugar 
  • 2x 8 oz packets of cream cheese, softened to room temperature 
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup) 
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 tbsp vanilla extract) 
  • 2 tbsp coconut extract

  • sweetened dessicated coconut, spread out on a platter cupcakes (can be done a day before and set aside)

  1. preheat oven to 350F, with a rack positioned in the middle (or middle-top if you have 4 levels in your oven) of the oven. 
  2. line cupcake molds with paper cupcake liners. 
  3. in a large mixing bowl, beat the softened butter with a whisk until creamy & slightly fluffy (the old fashioned way - if you’re pressed for time, you can use a beater). 
  4. add the sugar in 1/3 cup increments, while beating the butter, making sure that all the sugar gets incorporated. 
  5. add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating thoroughly. 
  6. add the coconut milk vanilla bean to the butter-sugar-egg mixture, incorporating thoroughly. 
  7. now take 1/3 of the dry mixture (sifted flour, baking powder & salt) and beat it into the wet ingredients. r
  8. epeat two more times, until all the dry ingredients are now incorporated. 
  9. add the dessicated coconut. 
  10. ladle the batter into the lined cupcake molds, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 full (or the mixture will overflow and you’ll have ugly cupcakes). 
  11. bake at 350F, for 18-25 minutes, until edges are golden brown & a toothpick/chopstick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached to it. 
  12. frosting - while the cupcakes are baking, prepare the following: beat the butter until creamy. 
  13. add cream cheese, half a package at a time, until it forms a creamy mixture. 
  14. add the sugar in four parts, incorporating thoroughly. add the coconut & vanilla extracts (or coconut extract & vanilla bean). 
  15. place in a piping bag and set aside in the refrigerator until the cupcakes are ready. 
  16. when cupcakes are completely cool, pipe frosting (using a plain, small-to-medium piping end) onto the cupcakes in a swirl. 
  17. roll cupcakes gently in sweetened dessicated coconut.

Nutella Drizzled Cheesecake

I have a love for Nutella. Okay, “love” might not be the right word. I’m obsessed with Nutella.
Here’s how to make Nutella Drizzled Cheesecake:
(Note: this recipe only makes 2 muffin sized cheesecakes. I’ve always wondered why every recipe I’ve read makes like, some ridiculous number like – 24 muffin sized cheesecakes. Am I really going to eat 24 cheesecakes? I don’t think so.)
For the Cheesecake Crust:4 Graham Cracker (Break ‘em into crumbs)
2 tablespoons of Butter
1/4 teaspoon of Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sugar
For the Cheesecake:
8 ounces of cream cheese (softened)
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
1 large egg
26.5ml heavy cream
For the topping:
1 Ziplock bag
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 2 muffin cups wit paper liners. Instead of using a regular muffin pan, I used a silicone muffin pan so i could push the Cheesecake out later from the bottom without it screwing up.
Mix together all the ingredients for the cheesecake crust, and line the muffin cup bottom with it. Your ingredients should look something like wet sand. If it doesn’t, you forgot something – probably the butter. Bake for 5 minutes, and let it cool.
Reduce oven to 300 Degrees F.
Beat the cream cheese until it’s smooth – I have an electric mixer, but you can easily do it with a spoon. Mix in all the rest of cheesecake filling ingredients one at a time. Make sure everything is well incorporated, and spoon the mixture into the muffin pan on top of the cheesecake crust. Shove it into the oven for 20-25minutes. Let it cool, and then transfer it to the fridge. The best cheesecakes are the ones that are left overnight, but if you’re impatient like me, 4 hours is just as good.
For the topping, if you have one of those cone-shaped things that squeeze out icing, then that’s fantastic. If not, you can be ghetto like me, take a Ziplock bag, and cut a small hole in the corner. I got the idea from @alyssa_george who is by far, the best baker/graphic designer out there. Shove some Nutella in the Ziplock bag, and squeeze it towards that corner. Before you decorate your cake, make sure you test out how much Nutella comes out of the hole you snipped. Don’t stress too much about how your design will look – just let the Nutella flow!

Ingredient of the Day: Zucchini!

Zucchini (and scallop squash, another kind of summer squash) is a nice, summery vegetable that has so many uses and a delicate, sweet flavor. although some hate it, i personally love it, both raw and cooked. it’s also one of those vegetables that are so versatile, and can be eaten raw, stir fried, in sauces, salads and pastas, among a multitude of applications. given that it’s readily available and relatively cheap, it’s a nutritious vegetable that we can incorporate many different ways into our meals. it is particularly useful for adding summery color to your dishes and bulking up vegetarian/vegetable dishes, and goes great with proteins that have a mild flavor (white fish, chicken). in my home country, korea, zucchini is generally eaten cooked, in stews/soups, casseroles or as a banchan (side dish) - lightly sauteed in oil, then seasoned with garlic and saewujot (a kind of shrimp sauce), although it does have a pleasant taste raw (try shaving slices with a vegetable peeler like noodles, and then tossing it with a bit of lemon zest & juice, olive oil, salt, pepper & basil).

some ways i might cook zucchini:
  • chopped or sliced into pasta sauce/lasagnas 
  • turned into a ricotta and zucchini filling for ravioli 
  • as a side dish to poisson blanc en surprise (white fish surprise - fish cooked in a paper bag) - very simply cooked with some haricot vert and shallots 
  • in ratatouille 
  • take the blossoms, stuff them in the traditional italian way, the fry them in olive oil 
  • slivered using a vegetable peeler, then dressed simply as described above as a summery side salad 
What are some ways you might cook zucchini? how do you eat it where you come from?