Friday, February 22, 2013

Meringue Cookies With Chocolate Ganache and Fresh Strawberries

Sitting here, sometimes  pinteresting my life away, I often come across things of great beauty. Though these days, it dominoes over to those series of rather unfortunate events, where multiple loads of clothes are ready-ho, and I am not, and scenarios of pretzels and goldfish make do for wholesome(?)after school snacking. Even the hint of dinner is so woefully delayed, because of my combined series of pinterest/chair yoga. Enquiries (more like distraught cries), abound,"what happened?". "Well, I wasted spent my six hours pinning (things that other people are good at), recipes and ideas that I will try here, promise." Smile and pat you go ( Yes, I do feel guilty, more often than not.)

Ahh, but there is that bright side, where moderate ( I stress the word) doses of (pin)spiration can be beneficial. Especially when those visions carry through to this outcome. Probably not as jawdropping as a towering cake building, nonetheless as distinctively delicious. With fruit and chocolate in its framework these lovelies are a successful answer, one of my most appealing"dessert-leads-dinner"declarations (commonplace in my house).

Two meringues wedging in fantastically smooth chocolate, dabbed with the volatile vibrance of fresh strawberries. Sound good? They are and I must go through the rank significance of just about every aspect of these dessert sandwiches.

Of course, will- mention is the crispness of bite, a beat-to-baked-to-done-right meringue, so worthy of its own one man show. Which not stopping there takes us to the dollop and slather of chocolated cream, a glossy ganache bridge between cookies and the new level of crazy good. It is here we reach pinnacle, fresh bursts of cut berries, bringing the sandwich meringue process to its insanely glorious end.

Ingredient count, you ask? As easy as counting the fingers on one hand are those elements required for meringue- making. The two and half hour work done by your kitchen oven, could be definitely taken to advantage. Like if you needed to review those TiVo recordings, while painting your nails.

As far as I'm concerned this may be one of the best go-to desserts for the year. Master recipe creates 16 cookies, or 8 sandwiches. Enough to make peace/comply with the dessert before dinner manifesto. All with no complaints.

  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • ¾ cup  superfine sugar (I grind regular white in the food processor)
  • pinch salt
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract 
Experimenting with Instagram on my phone while charging the battery to my Canon.

  • Preheat oven to 200° F.
  • Using a whisk attachment to your stand mixer, beat egg whites until foamy on medium speed. 
  • Spoon in cream of tartar.
  • Slowly drop in tablespoonfuls of the sugar. Beat on medium high after each addition and continue to beat until glossy form.  
  • Beat in salt and vanilla.
  • Continue to beat until firm, sturdy peaks form. They should retain shape, glossy smooth, with no grit of sugar left behind.
  • Pipe or spoon 2 inch forms onto parchment lined sheets. (for the rosettes I used Wilton tip 2D and technique for the frosting on these orange cupcakes.)
  • Bake for approximately 2 ½ hours, rotating the baking tray from front to back, until completely done and insides are no longer sticky.
  • Turn heat off and let meringues cool in the oven. Take out once cool.
I colored my meringues by stripe-painting the insides of my pastry bag with gel food color.

Chocolate Ganache
4-6 fresh strawberries, chopped small
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 6 oz semisweet mini chocolate chips
  • In a microwave safe bowl, heat cream full power, 1 minute.
  • Take out. Stir in chocolate chips until melted and whisk mixture smooth.
  • Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes ( I don't like it too thick).
  • Mix in strawberries into chocolate mixture.
Assemble your sandwich:
  • Spread onto one meringue cookie.
  • Top with a second cookie.
Notes~ I have baked meringues at 250°F for one hour too. But the texture seems somewhat better with the lower 200°F at longer bake time.
Alternatively you could top the strawberries onto the chocolate, to create two layers and then sandwich.

Similar recipes? Try the Macarons with double chocolate ganache filling . Maybe even this giant meringue cake.
"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority." Colossians 2:9-10 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lemon Coconut Loaf

This next recipe evolved as a deep set need (read: insane craving) to consume whole yellow citrus in an edible and fairly appealing way. Yes, a citrus lover's dream come true, or maybe my solution to the visions that chase me down, of mammoth lemons trying to consume me whole, instead of it being the other way around (?). No folks, rested sleep mine is not. Press fast forward, though and we reach the end, reeling in my lemon(s) to mega loaf form, a lemon bread, so worth the chase and conquer endured to get to it. Today fantasy became my reality as this lemon coconut loaf came into being, not of those mammoth proportions, perhaps, but, undoubtedly possessing rare giantess flavor. Of course, sweet dreams are made of these and yes, freakishly scary how my mind works, right?
Shall we then, further on?

Lemon coconut loaf is a simple production, starring ingredient being,of course, the one, maybe two lemons used in its making. The luminary which pulls in those familiar tanged flavor bursts, is a transparent character basic needed in doing any tart dessert ensemble. Accompanying roles include a fair portion of bright buttermilk for softer-than-silk texture, almost true to that of pound cake, but without Pound's excess fat. Standout performances by a wee of sugared ginger and a cup's half of flaky coconut are in line with the few dozen elements, all working in brilliant interplay. Each individual ingredient is magnificently pitched to bring about an overall structured and better than most sweet loaf.

Though lemon coconut loaf is the height of casual everyday snack cake perfection, it can be instantly glammed with its accessorizing glaze to suit any monumental occasion.

The whole process takes less than an hour and a half from your day, counting bake time. Not bad, since I completely forgot about this Day Devoted To Love And All Things Sweet and immediately worked to make things right. Charming Valentine's treat, here you come!

Now, one question remains. What do you when the whole 9X5 loaf is polished off, way before the day is done, much before those key people that qualify as Valentines are even home?

Didn't someone once say, perfection always demands a repeat performance? Alas, once again.

 ( Lightly adapted from a thread off a recipe from The Old Farmer's Almanac)

  • 2 ½ c all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 c sugar
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 4 tbsp oil (I used canola, but any cooking oil should do)
  • ¾ c buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 tsp finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • ½ c dessicated coconut
  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Grease 9X5 loaf pan or one of similar dimensions.
  • In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In mixing bowl of electric mixer, on medium speed, beat together sugar butter, oil, buttermilk until well combined until pale and creamy.
  • Add eggs one by one, beating after each addition.
  • Have all the ingredients well combined.
  • Alternatively, slowly work in flour with lemon juice, starting and ending with flour. Mix well with each addition.
  • Add lemon zest, ginger pieces, and coconut. Mix again.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • In the meantime, make glaze.
The original recipe was changed here and there and I replaced the milk in it for lemon juice. For a less tart flavor (non-understandable since it is a lemon loaf) replace lemon juice with 1/4 c milk instead.
Loaf pan that I fell in love with, but never used, until today.

  • 1 c confectioner's sugar
  • 1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice (depending on your need for tart)
  • ½ tsp lemon zest
  • ¼ c dessicated coconut
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk(canned) or regular milk
  • In a bowl, whisk confectioner's sugar with lemon juice and coconut milk until smooth.
  • Mix in zest and coconut. 
  • Slowly drizzle in and combine coconut milk.
  • Spoon over loaf or on individual servings.

Shocked as I was, taking a lookback, I forgot that BFMK had crossed the one year mark. Start date -Feb 3rd, 2012. First recipe? Banana chocolate chip loaf. No it wasn't planned but this loaf recipe really makes a great year one recipe marker. Unless I get all crazy and decide on making a grand cake, perhaps? Or maybe just look at this one.

The best thing about all the cooking, typing, eating, phototaking and the like? Sharing it with you guys. As it can never be enough, my gratitude goes to every single one- readers, encouragers, fellow bloggers and just about anyone who has shared in Blessings love. Thank you.

Happy Valentine's day~

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Baked chicken wings and a spiced, sweet and sour sauce

Most of my life I could not understand the sweet sauce concept. You know the kind where candied cloy meets ubiquitous smoke and completely masks the identity of the food you're eating (ugh).

Steak marinade, the "popular" item on a local Chinese menu, honey ham and the like- yes, it could all render a very horrendous experience, if the sweet balance is not taken seriously. Which is why my mind would scream "standing ovation" each time I'd bite into a meal dressed to seasoned/honey perfection. I also believe that  suitable combinations of sugar, salt, tang and spice can almost never be bought in bottles.

Which is why I surprised even myself, when more than a few years ago, I mixed up my own dulcet peppered merger to pour over grilling ribs. As I put together the components for my sweet and sour sauce, a fair share came from the doors of my refrigerator. As brown sugar and honey steadied out the tartness of tomato based ketchup, all the others helped to bring out fantastic sauce symmetry, beating out many a bottled goop of brown shellac.

Whipping it up is easy- a gentle reduction forges the many into one bringing about a gentle nuanced but bright tasting body. And beyond excellence becomes its destiny when slathered onto crunchy, crisp chicken wings, so right for this family suffering from MWF (Major Wing Fixation).

The issue of baking the wings and drumettes ahead, takes on a tenfold advantage. For one, you are cutting out way more fat than you need. Second, it is obsessively quicker than hours on end in front of a flaming burner. Third, you will appreciate the bite on these ones, which would be of a more substantial quality, unlike those overburdened with excessive oil.

Don't let the wee wingy sizes play trickster on you. Their caramelized crisp edges are dangerously addictive. Hold on to more than a few because they are seriously crunch, crunch, gone before you'll be able to dig for more. Double batch, maybe? Now, is your stomach grumbling too?

Baked sweet sour wings:
  • 1 c all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 12 whole chicken wings, disjointed and split to make 24 pieces
  • 1 c ketchup
  • ¼ c brown sugar
  • ¼ c tsp honey 
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha (chili garlic sauce)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Preheat oven to 400° F.
  • Line 2 large baking trays with aluminum foil. Spray foil with cooking spray.
  • Place first four ingredients (flour-salt) in sealable plastic bag. Seal and shake to mix well. Open to add wings, a few at a time. Seal once again and toss to coat each batch. Lay coated wings onto prepared trays. Spray the tops with a final coat of cooking spray.
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until done, turning wings over when halfway done.
  • Whisk together ingredients from the ketchup to salt in a medium saucepan. Let simmer over medium heat. 
  • Turn off once blended.
  • Toss hot wings in sauce until all pieces are coated.
  • Serve warm.
The sauce is highly versatile. I 've used it for marinades while grilling steaks, baking pork chops, or as dipping sauce for chicken. It can also be a template for your own sweet/sour combination. Tailor it to suit your tastes, although it's quite fantastic as is. 

No, I'm not pretending that I've been absent too long a while. I figured it was blah boring to offer excuses at an update's beginning which is why I waited until this very end. You see, we moved, shifted residence, which means my whole kitchen did too. So, after finding new space for my pots, pans, dishes, utensils, and, of course, the whole of my Indian pantry, this is the first recipe I felt worthy of a post (especially after the many nights of pizza and frozen meal sustenance).

Though, I thank you for staying with me through all my errant and"unscheduled"updates, I am sorry for this particularly long overdue. I can never express enough my appreciation to you, loyal friends, inspiring commenters, followers, simply each and every acquaintance and visitor that have thumbed these pages, taking in my food experiences and reading the journalling that ensues. You are a patient lot and a lovely audience for sure. Thanks for reading.
An additional batch of 24 was dunked in a hot sauce and butter blend(regular buffalo sauce). Requirements?1 stick of butter and a cup and half of Franks medium hot sauce, combined over heat. Slather away!

After a major move over a year ago from our Midwest home, this past year saw us in temporary" smallish conditions (the kitchen being one of the tiniest I've had yet) in our new Southwest habitat. In those long transitional months God grew us up and deepened our faith in phases. We saw prayers answered, mountains moved, miracles abound- the Lord working mightily in our lives. God is good, all the time!

Now, having shifted to our current space, I'm blessed with an expanse of kitchen, excited and filled with ideas and plans to bring you quite a few blessings from my new kitchen. 
God's perspective is an all encompassing one and it is always bigger than ours. No matter where you are, throw your doubts to the side, trust and believe He can do great things for you, through you, and hold firm to those promises. "For the one who calls you is faithful, and he will make it happen." 

 ..."God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that." 1 Corinthians 1:7-9 (MSG)

 "All the while you hear each spoken word, yet love us too much to give us lesser things"~Blessings, by Laura Story