WE'VE MOVED

Hello!

Thank you for the amazing 8 years here at A Baked Creation, we can't thank you enough for the memories! But we've decided to move over to a new site - Sincerely, Syl. Please join us there for future posts on all the things you loved here!

Sincerely,
Syl

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Mango Pudding

My parents came back from their trip to Hong Kong with cute little milk bottles. It looks like my aunts took them to Milk Top for desserts quite a few time. They tried mango and red bean puddings and I was envious! In turn, I found Sweet Note and tried their milk bottle desserts. They're delicious little treats and I was delighted to learn that we could keep the milk bottles! Well, I guess I have to try my hand at making some pudding then! It's one of my favourite treats and I always try to order one at dim sum.

I made the recipe below three times. The first time, I foolishly let the gelatin and water mixture cool as I was dicing mangoes and basically the solidified gelatin didn't incorporate with the rest. So they didn't set and Howard has been drinking them like shots. Ew.

The second time I found success and brought them over to my parent's house for Christmas dinner. However, the gelatin left surprise chunks in the pudding. I still needed to master a smoother gelatin mix. Third times the charm!
Mango Pudding
(Makes enough for 6 milk bottles)

1 fresh mango
1 package of gelatin (about 2 1/2 to 3 teaspoons)
3/4 cup of water
2/3 cup of mango pulp (or purée)
1/2 cup of evaporated milk
10 ice cubes
3 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  1. Cut the mango in half and dice into small cubes. Set aside the other half to eat! Or if you'd like, you can save them to decorate the pudding by placing them on top after it has set.
  2. Put the hot water in a small pot and boil, reduce heat to simmer. Stir in the gelatin until dissolved. This step is important!
  3. Turn off the stove and remove the pot from the heat. Pour in the mango pulp, evaporated milk, and ice cubes. Stir until the ice has melted.
  4. Add in the sugar and the diced mangoes, mix until sugar is dissolved.
  5. Pour into the milk bottles or ramekins or molds. Place in the fridge to let it set overnight or for about 2 hours. 
  6. Decorate with the other half of the diced mangoes. Or pour a thin layer of mango pulp on top for decoration.
Finally, my best batch yet. Smooth mango pudding with dices of mango throughout.
And these milk bottles, so cute!!!
I'd love to know how to make red bean pudding or green tea pudding. I think flan would also work well in these little bottles. Something to try this week!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Skillet Cookie

Happy holidays everyone! We hope you had a great time and totally chilled this boxing day. I'm happy to say we haven't stepped out of the house yet to venture into the crowds. It's nice when there isn't really anything on your immediate shopping list. That's not to say that we don't have items on our wishlist, but nothing is urgent enough to warrant an early wake up to line up at the stores.

We spent Christmas eve and Christmas days with our family. Both of our parents hosted and made hot pot for dinner. Mmm: tofu, mushrooms, radishes, meatballs, fish, scallops, shrimp, and finely sliced pieces of meat.

This morning I made nachos with my favourite guacamole: avocados, tomatoes, shallots, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Tossed in some pomegranate seeds since I was feeling festive. Then a Dutch baby with sautéed apples. It failed. I've made this three times this year, twice it stayed flat and refused to puff up and give me the air pockets I desired. Once (when I actually had guests over) it did and was beautiful and impressive to my brunch crowd. Seriously, I stress over Dutch babies more than soufflés. How is that right? Why does the Dutch baby make me cry?

Well, at least this skillet cookie does not disappoint.
Skillet Cookie
(Makes six 5-inch skillet cookies or two 9-inch skillet cookies)

1 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).
  2. In a microwave-safe bowl, place butter and chocolate in it, then melt on low power for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Whisk in sugar until smooth. Let it cool, if you don't the eggs will cook too fast when you put them in.
  4. Whisk in the eggs until combined.
  5. Add in the flour and cocoa powder. The mixture will be very dark, thick, and shiny (see the first photo).
  6. Scoop and place into skillet, about half full. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the batter loses the shininess.
  7. Cool for a few minutes and top with ice cream and sprinkles!
Don't over bake these, you want them to be soft and gooey. They're best when they're still warm. If you don't have enough skillets (who does?? Why would any of us own that many mini skillets?), you can use a small ice cream scoop to divide the batter and drop onto parchment paper as drop cookies.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Vietnamese Beef Pho

You guys! I made pho tonight!!! Well, about 80% of it since I didn't make my own beef stock. But still, it's been on my list of things to try and I can now proudly say I did it. I recently got The Kitchn Cookbook and The Slanted Door and I've been tagging a lot of the Vietnamese food recipes. I feel that I should learn some of the basics since my dad is from there and recently came back from a trip to Vietnam. Also, it might end up saving me some cash because I love going out for pho!

This recipe is adapted from The Kitchn a bit. Mostly made changes in the toppings and garnish since I really wanted to focus on the broth.

Vietnamese Beef Pho Broth
Makes enough to serve 4

2 large onions, peeled
4-inch piece of ginger, peeled
2 three-inch cinnamon sticks
2 pieces of whole star anise
3 whole cloves
2 teaspoons of coriander seeds
1800 milliliters of low-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
3 carrots, peeled and chopped

Peel and quarter the onions and ginger. Set on baking tray and broil for about five minute, flip and broil again for another five minutes. We just want a slight char, so if you have an open flame, that works too (use tongs to hold onions and ginger).

Put the cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, and coriander seeds in a large pot over medium-low heat. Dry-roast it a bit and stir to keep them from burning. When the spices are aromatic, add in the beef broth, soy sauce, fish sauce, carrots, charred onions, and charred ginger. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover with lid, and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

After, take out another pot, place a strainer or sieve over it to separate the ingredients. Keep the broth hot in this second pot until ready to serve.

I prepared some scallions, cilantro, limes, and quickly cooked the bean sprouts in boiling water. I'm not going to specify quantities here, it's up to you! I always need limes with my pho, so I get 3/4 of the wedges while Howard uses 1. He'd probably not use it but I'm trying to convert him into adding lime juice to the broth. I feel that it tastes so much better with that sour note.

I didn't want to buy a whole pack of Thai basil, but that's generally something I add to my pho as well. As for the boiled bean sprouts, that's something my parents do and we ask restaurants to do it as well when we eat out. I think it has something to do with their preference of cleaning the bean sprouts in a quick flash of hot water.

For the meat topping, we purchased rib-eye beef that's intended for hot pot, but works beautifully here as well. After you cook the flat rice noodle (vermicelli), place the thinly sliced beef on top. Don't worry that it's still raw. If you kept the broth hot enough, it'll be cooked in no time!
See? Pour the broth over to cook the meat and this will also keep the noodles from sticking together. Garnish to your taste. You can see my bowl on the right already has two squeezed lime wedges in it. If you need some spice, add chili or Sriracha.
Verdict? The broth wasn't like the restaurant versions - we're guessing they use their own beef stock and cook that broth for hours. We found that this smelled great and wasn't greasy at all. But if you like it clean and not salty, this is the one for you. In fact, it wasn't salty enough, so we might throw in a pinch next time. We usually feel incredibly thirsty after eating pho out, but this one caused no such desires. But Howard did wish that there was a mango smoothie to end the meal with. Hmph!

Friday, December 19, 2014

American Thanksgiving with Korean Food

We celebrated American Thanksgiving this year with a homemade Momofuku Bo Ssäm. It was such a success that we might do it again for Christmas or New Years or Valentine's Day or St. Patrick's Day and you might want to, too!

We purchased an eight pound boneless pork shoulder from a local butcher and covered it in a cup of granulated sugar and a cup of salt. In a pan, we rubbed the sugar and salt all over, covered it in plastic wrap, and the meat cured overnight (or for at least 6 hours if you're strapped for time). The next day, we preheated our oven to 300°F (150°C), poured any excess liquid out of the pan, had the pork set fat side up, and popped it in the oven at noon. It baked for 6 hours, we basted every hour with juices from the pan.

A little alteration to the Momofuku cookbook's ginger-scallion sauce: 2½ cups of thinly sliced scallions, ½ cup peeled and minced fresh ginger, ¼ cup of grapeseed oil, 1½ teaspoons of soy sauce, 3/4 teaspoon of rice wine vinegar (instead of sherry vinegar), and 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Any leftover sauce we had, Howard used for the rest of the week. It is that good!

The ssäm sauce felt too oily for us, maybe reduce the amount some more? It's was a mix of 1 tablespoons of fermented bean-and-chili paste (ssamjang), ½ tablespoon chili paste (kochujang), ¼ cup rice wine vinegar (again substituted instead of sherry vinegar), and ¼ cup grapeseed oil. We'd try to reduce the oil in half next time.

We bought kim chi and lettuce. Made steamed rice, a cucumber salad, and rice cakes as well.

I love these roasted rice cakes! I urge Howard to make them every chance I get. First you make the Korean Red Dragon sauce. Boil ½ cup of water and ½ cup of sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in 3/4 fermented bean-and-chili paste (ssamjang) until it dissolves. Add in 2 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of rice wine vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil to combine. Set aside.

To make the final sauce that the rice cakes will be tossed in, use another small saucepan and boil ¼ cup mirin and ¼ cup of chicken broth on high heat for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add ½ cup of Korean Red Dragon Sauce and reduce on medium for 6 to 7 minutes.

Boil the rice cakes until they float. Drain the water. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil when hot. Then add the rice cakes. Sear the rice cakes for about 3 minutes per side. They get sticky, so use tongs or chopsticks to help flip them over individually. Toss the crunchy rice cakes in the sauce until they're evenly covered (they magically un-stick here). Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced scallions. Eat them right away, they're so addictive and yummy!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Home Sweet Home

Today is the anniversary of our closing date. I would have missed it if Howard didn't remind me because we didn't actually move in until the new year. We spent a good amount of timing scrubbing the place clean and slowly moving pieces of our lives in, and then carefully choosing furniture. Yet, today feels like a momentous occasion to acknowledge. We're adults! We have more responsibilities! We have lots of bills to pay!
Even with the side effects of being in debt, I have had one of the happiest years of my life so far. I still crawl into bed (which I also purchased a year ago) with a smile on my face (that makes Howard think I'm a lunatic) because I feel so lucky and blessed. I have family and friends who are healthy, generous, and supportive. I have a warm home and a great job to go to every day. The luxury of a car and savings to go on small trips. And the best partner to do all of this with! Howard is there as my gentle reminder and backup so that I can go forward without worry. I can't wait for our wedding day next year.
Domo looks happy in his new home too. He has the best view of everything that happens in our place.

I don't even mind that our kitchen is 60 square feet. I've seen those who do more in their small kitchens online and know that my aunt and uncle in New York have an even smaller kitchen space. The stove, oven, fridge, and dish washer works. There's (some) counter space, a small sink, and a set of drawers. We just have to be super selective on which counter-top appliances, dishes, pots, pans, and pantry staples we need. This sounds like a good idea for a future post. I would like to share what works for us in our small space!
Then there are my books, my pride and joy. You'll be pleased to know that I put cookbooks where a DVD player (which we don't own) would normally sit on the media unit. We have one bookshelf that reaches 8 feet high and is pretty much full. I worry that it'll topple over from the weight and break the walls, but so far it has been safe to walk by. I probably have two more bookshelves worth of books still at my parent's house waiting to be moved.

It's a week from Christmas, so I hope you're all grateful for what you have and feel blessed and happy as well. It's been a learning experience and a test of patience for us, but I feel a little wiser and closer to our parents who are experts at all things home and garden. To family!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Classic French Madeleines

How have you been? I know it's been quite around here, it's been quite hectic at work. Worst of all, I met my nemesis, the flu. The flu kicked me down and knocked me out for a week. I'm still fighting the after effects, but I think I am finally winning.

The wedding plans are also coming along (mostly?). I don't think there's anything left for us to do this year. All the things that need to be booked ahead of time are done (I hope, I think?), so we just wait until we're closer to the date. I'd like to think we're ahead of schedule or at least on track! I wish I could tell you more, but I'm an odd believer that I'll jinx it if I do. Some things were too good to be true and then fell through, so I'll wait until it's all over before I say any more!

I'm still loving little madeleines though. These tiny tea cakes make good afternoon snacks. I hope you all get madeleine pans this holiday and make these tasty little morsels.
Classic French Madeleines
Recipe from Madeleines: Elegant French Tea Cakes to Bake and Share
(Makes about 24 regular or 48 minis)

1 stick of unsalted butter + 4 tablespoons for the pan
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
3 large eggs
2/3 cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest
  1. Preheat the oven at 175°C or 350°F.
  2. Place the butter in a microwavable bowl and melt on lower power for about a minute. Let it cool to room temperature. Butter up with the 4 tablespoons! Make sure you brush soften butter into all the nooks and crannies of the pan for easy lift up after.
  3. Using a mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together until it is light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add in vanilla extract and lemon zest, mix for another minute until combined. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Don't over mix at this stage, the flour just needs to be incorporated completely.
  5. Use a spoon or scoop to fill the pan molds until they're almost full. You can smooth out the batter if you like, but I find that it'll melt nicely into the mold in the oven's hot temperatures.
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes for regular sized madeleines and 5 to 6 for the mini sizes. They should puff up to show that signature madeleine hump and be golden in colour.
  7. Remove from the oven and let the madeleines cool. Eat them right away. Seriously, they're best when they're fresh!
I'm thinking these will make great gifts this holiday at the office. I've made macarons two years in a row, it's time to switch it up!
One more thing, don't skip the lemon zest, it gives the cakes such a great boost in flavour. Not to mention, the aroma!!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Madeleines

Madeleines . . . the first time I had memorable madeleines was at Café Boulud. They were sitting in a warm nest of linen napkins, and even though I was full from the meal, I devoured them.

Little miniature tea cakes, madeleines are described as "small, shell-shaped cakes made of flour, eggs, sugar, and butter and baked in molds." I think we can all agree that we could use more madeleines in our lives, so I couldn't wait to look through a whole book about them!
Beautiful endpapers should always be acknowledged.
If I woke up to that basket of madeleines every morning, I would be happy and content. All would be right.
I quickly flipped to chapter three, dark and deluxe chocolate madeleines!

Madeleines: Elegant French Tea Cakes to Bake and Share
Written by Barbara Feldman Morse
Photographs by Steve Legato
ISBN 13: 9781594747403
ISBN 10: 1594747407
Publisher: Quirk Books
Hardcover: 224 pages

Let's give the dark chocolate espresso madeleines a try. The author mentions that this recipe was adapted from her award-winning recipe that is a mix between brownies, fudge, and dense chocolate cake.
I used a double boiler and a stand mixer to create the batter. A lot of butter, sugar, semisweet chocolate chips, espresso powder, eggs, flour, and cocoa powder went into this.
This particular batter was dark, thick, and shiny. It also doesn't rise much, so you can fill the molds to the top without worrying about overflow.
The espresso flavor really stands out, the only thing I wished was that my mold was more defined. I felt that they didn't produce enough of a shell imprint on the madeleines. So if you're on the search for madeleine pans, get ones with more defined edges!

If you're not picky on how they look, then it doesn't matter because they taste great anyways. Looking over the table of contents, I would want to try these recipes next: the classic French madeleines, lemon poppy seed, chai tea, peanut butter and jelly, sunshine, molten, peaches and cream, snowball, fresh lemon drop, browned butter pecan, gruyère and rosemary, brie-stuffed, caramelized onion and asiago, and banana foster. As you can see, there are savory and appetizer madeleines!

Disclaimer: A review copy of Madeleines was sent to me for review from Eric Smith at Quirk Books. Thank you! No incentives were used to produce a positive review of this book.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chocolate-​Hazelnut Panettone

Shall we just take a moment to pause and think about how quickly the seasons are passing? In almost no time, December will be upon us and there will be snowfall, twinkling lights, and holiday classics. One that is frequently displayed in shops is the panettone. An Italian sweet bread made from a buttery and egg-rich dough. Traditionally, it’s made with dried fruit, but we’re going to indulge a little and add chocolate and hazelnuts instead.

To start, use a large microwavable bowl to pour in 2⁄3 cup of milk. Quickly warm it up in the microwave, ten seconds will do. Sprinkle one package (8 grams or 2 1/4 teaspoon) of active dry yeast on top. Cover with plastic wrap and let it stand for about ten minutes. Stir in 1 cup of all-purpose flour until you have a sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise and double in size for about an hour and a half.
Using your trusted Kenwood Chef mixer, whisk 4 egg yolks, 2 eggs, 2/3 cups of granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of hazelnut liqueur, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon of salt together.

Notice the difference in colour of the batter in the top two photos. It should be a pale yellow, foamy, and doubled in volume. That is after five minutes of whisking on medium speed!

Cut the 3⁄4 cup of unsalted and softened butter into 1 tablespoon sizes. Whisk them one at a time until combined with the batter. Stir in the yeast dough you made earlier and 3 cups of flour.

Change out the whisk attachment for the dough hook. Set the speed to one and have it knead the dough for eight minutes. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, take the dough out and knead it on a floured surface for eight minutes.)
Then, let the dough rest for five minutes, press down on the dough, sprinkle with 225 grams (8 ounces) of semisweet chocolate chips and 3/4 cup slivers of skinned hazelnuts. Set the dough hook on low speed to slowly distribute the chocolate and hazelnut, for about a minute.

Place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm, draft-free area for about two hours. It should double in size.
Press down on the dough and flour a work surface. Shape the dough into a ball by pinching the bottom to smooth out the top. Line the bottom and sides of your panettone mould or cake pans (I would recommend two 6-inch cake pans) with parchment paper. The sides should have a 1-inch overhang (to guide the dough to bake upwards for more height). Place the dough, seam side down, into the mould or cake pan. Cover and let it double in size again in about two hours.
Cut a 1⁄4-inch (5 mm) deep X on the top of the loaf.
Brush with softened butter. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for about 65 to 75 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let it cool for an hour.
Cut into wedges! We didn’t have any leftovers, but if you do, use it for French toast or bread pudding. This panettone has the right consistency to be transformed into a breakfast or dessert dish!

Recipe can be found here.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Canadian Living and Kenwood. I received compensation for it. There was no requirement to produce a positive review of this recipe. All opinions are our own.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Classic Cinnamon Apple Pie

Flaky, no fail pie crust? Challenge accepted.

I've never been great at making pies and this would be my first made-from-scratch pie without the help of a friend or family member. I'm glad it's a classic cinnamon apple pie, can't mess that up, can I? The instructions look easy enough.

Using a food processor, I combined 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 3/4 teaspoon of salt. The Crisco all vegetable shortening is already measured out into one cup.

Just toss that bad boy into the food processor with the flour. Give is a few quick pulses.

Stop when it resembles coarse crumbs. You're at a good place here.

Beat 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of cold water, and 1 tablespoon of vinegar together to blend. Pour this mixture into the crumbs. Again, give the food processor a few pulses until everything comes together. The dough is now moistened and ready to scoop out.

Shape the dough into a disc shape, wrap, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes (of you can do this ahead of time and chill it overnight).

Can I say how much I love my apple peeler and corer? Made the job of slicing 8 Golden Delicious apples a lot easier!

Place the apples in a large bowl. Throw in 3/4 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt and nutmeg.

Give everything a good toss.

Take the chilled dough out of the fridge and roll it on to a floured surface. You'll need it to be 2 inches wider than your pie dish to accommodate the sides.

Gently and carefully place the dough into your pie dish. Place cinnamon apple filling onto the bottom pie crust. Spread and pack it down firmly. It's okay if the middle is slightly higher, the filling will shrink when it bakes. Place the remaining dough on top of the pie and brush with a beaten egg yolk. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake on the bottom rack of your oven at 425F for 20 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to 325°F. and bake for about 60 to 65 minutes. The crust should be golden and the filling will be bubbly.

What do you think? I think it is picture perfect! Fine, my pie decorating skills and trimming could use some work, but it looks good! I'm quite proud of it! And not only does it look good, the crust is flaky and the filling is delicious. A successful pie made in the afternoon makes for a great after dinner dessert.

CRISCO® No Fail Pie Crust
From Crisco®
For one double-crust pie or two 9” (23 cm) pie shells

2 cups (500 ml) of Robin Hood® Original All Purpose Flour
3/4 teaspoons (4 ml) of salt
1 cup (250 ml) of Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening
1 egg
2 tablespoons (30 ml) of cold water
1 tablespoon (15 ml) of white vinegar
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the shortening. Using a pastry blender, cut shortening into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. In a small bowl, beat together the egg, water and vinegar. Add to the flour mixture and stir with a fork until moistened.
  3. Divide the dough into 2 pieces and shape into a 4" disk. Wrap each with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. This will make it easier to roll out the dough.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out on disc of dough into an 11 inch circle. Carefully transfer to a lightly greased 9" pie plate. Fill with Classic Cinnamon Apple Pie Filling (recipe below).
  5. Roll out second disc of dough to an 11 inch circle. Cover the pie with the rolled out dough. Tuck the edges under and pinch to seal. Flute the edges. Bake according to directions for the filling.
Classic Cinnamon Apple Pie
Adapted from Canadian Living

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Portion Size: 10 to 12

Filling:
8 firm cooking apples (such as Golden Delicious)
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Pinch each salt and nutmeg
2 tablespoon of unsalted butter, softened
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon of coarse sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Peel and core the apples. Cut into 1/4" slices and put in a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Sprinkle over apples. Toss the apples so all are coated with the sugar mixture.
  4. Transfer apples to the prepared pie shell. Pack the apples down and dot with butter. Top with the second circle of dough. Tuck the edges under and pinch to seal. Flute the edges of the pie dough.
  5. Whisk the egg yolk and brush on top of the pie. Sprinkle the sugar on top. Cut steam vents in the top.
  6. Bake on the bottom rack for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F and bake until the bottom is golden and the filling is bubbly, about 60-65 minutes. Allow to cool on rack.
And now the contest:
Snap a photo of your favourite pie. Share it using #CLEasyAsPie and you could win a $4,000 baking experience! For more details, visit Canadianliving.com/easyaspie!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Canadian Living and Crisco. I received compensation for it. There was no requirement to produce a positive review of this recipe. All opinions are our own.
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