Jan 26, 2010

Playing with dough: Sourdough English Muffins

As a child the best part about Sunday mornings was breakfast with my Papa. He would cook eggs, open all kinds of different Marmalades made by my grandmother and he would toast English  Muffins.

I loved them almost burned, lathered with fresh sweet butter and under a golden blanked of Honey.

I can still taste it, if I close my eyes. Feel the mix of melting butter and honey run down my chin.

So now that my boys finally are a little more open to the taste of sourdough I just had to give it a try.

I am still a little bit in shock about how easy it is and how delicious they taste.

From now on I will make them myself, they are easy, fast and freeze amazingly.

Give them a try and let me know how you like to eat them.


Sourdough English Muffins


½ cup sourdough starter

1 cup all purpose flour

2 cups bread flour

1 cup water

½ tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar



Combine starter with 2 cups of bread flour and 1 cup of water. Stir thoroughly, cover with plastic wrap and let sit out overnight.

Add the salt, sugar and the remaining cup of flour.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 3-4 minutes. 

Roll out to ½ inch and cut with a biscuit cutter into rounds. 

Before you can reroll the scraps, you need to let the dough rest.

Place muffins on a piece of parchment dusted with semolina, sprinkle the tops of the muffins with semolina and let them rise, covered with a dishtowel, 

for about 40-50 minutes.

Heat a lightly greased skillet or griddle on medium heat.

Cook the muffins for about 5 minutes on each side, turning only once. The muffins will reach a light or medium brown (turn town the temperature slightly if they cook too quickly) on both the top and the bottom when they are cooked through. Before the first flip, the sides of the muffin will start to look dry, like the edges of a pancake, when it it ready to be turned. You can peek at the underside, too.

Cool completely before storing.

Challenging myself : Daring Bakers January Challenge Nanaimo Bars

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month.

The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.

First of all they are delicious. I love them the kids love them, even my husband loves them.

Believe me this is a bad, really bad thing.

You don`t understand?

Look at this picture.

This is my son ( the 1 minute older one) and he is missing a tooth.

My little crazy boys had nothing better to do than to stuff themselves with the Nanaimo Bars and high on sugar run around the living room.

There was a bang, a scream and a missing tooth that I later found under the table.

Don`t you just love it when something like this happens ( to somebody else).

So we took him to the dentist, everything should be fine. And in the car on the way home he already asked if he could get some more Namo.

I will make them again and you should too.

Recipe Source: Graham Wafers — 101 Cookbooks  Lauren adapted it to be gluten-free. The adapted recipe is below.
Nanaimo Bars — City of Nanaimo 

Notes for gluten-free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars:

• Glutinous rice flour does not contain any gluten, as it is made from a type of rice called glutinous (or sweet) rice.
• The graham wafer dough is very sticky. Make sure you are flouring (with sweet rice flour) well, or the dough will be difficult to remove from the surface you roll it out on. Also be sure to keep it cold. You do not want the butter to melt.
• I chose these flours because of their availability. Tapioca starch/flour and sweet rice flour can often be found in Asian grocery stores, or in the Asian section of you grocery store. Sorghum can be slightly more difficult to find, but it can be replaced with brown rice flour, millet flour or other alternatives.
• In the Nanaimo Bars, it is very important that the chocolate be cool but still a liquid, otherwise the custard layer will melt, and it will mix with the chocolate, being difficult to spread. Allow the chocolate mixture to come to room temperature but not solidify before spreading the top layer on.

Variations allowed:
• Although I highly recommend using gluten-free flours, as the chemistry is very interesting and the end result can be amazing, you are allowed to use wheat.
• If making them gluten-free, no wheat, barley, rye, triticale, kamut, spelt, durum, semolina, or other gluten containing ingredients may be used. Removing those ingredients ensures it is safe for those with Celiac Disease and other health issues where gluten causes problems. If you do plan on serving this to someone on a gluten-free diet, also ensure no cross-contamination occurs.

Preparation time:
• Graham Wafers: 30 to 45 minutes total active prep, 2 ½ hours to overnight and 45 minutes inactive prep.
• Nanaimo Bars: 30 minutes.

Equipment required:
• Food Processor
• Bowls
• Parchment paper or silpats
• Cookie sheets
• Double boiler or pot and heatproof bowl
• 8 by 8 inch square pan
• Hand mixer or stand mixer (You may use a wooden spoon, but this makes it much easier!)
• Saucepan

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

Nanaimo Bars

For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

Additional Information:

These bars freeze very well, so don’t be afraid to pop some into the freezer.

The graham wafers may be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Mine lasted about that long.

If making the graham crackers with wheat, replace the gluten-free flours (tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, and sorghum flour) with 2 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp of all-purpose wheat flour, or wheat pastry flour. Watch the wheat-based graham wafers very closely in the oven, as they bake faster than the gluten-free ones, sometimes only 12 minutes.

For the Nanaimo Bars, if making with wheat, replace the gluten-free graham wafer crumbs with equal parts wheat graham wafer crumbs!

Jan 25, 2010

Discovering Asia : Thai Spring Rolls with Pork

All long time ago, it must have been a long time ago because I was 18 at that time, I discovered my love for Chinese food.

I love the spices and the fast and easy way of cooking. Next I took a interest in Japanese food. I was amazed by the differences and at the same time I loved the similarities.

In no way would I say I was bored but now I just have to take a look into Thai food.

A good friend of us is in love, he is in love with a woman that makes the best Spring Rolls, maybe because she is Thai.

If he listens to me he will make sure that she keeps him, what means I will get a insights into this amazing culture and some recipes.

This spring roll recipe can be made vegetarian or with chicken or with shrimp or with tofu.

Give it a try, believe me that you will love it.

Thai Spring Rolls with Pork


2 minced cloves garlic

1 Tbsp grated galangal 

1 Tbsp grated ginger

1 sliced green onions

1/2 minced red chilli ( you can add more, this is enough to give it flavour but no real heat)

1/2 cup shredded or finely chopped cabbage

4-6 cut shiitake mushrooms

1/2 cup cooked pork ground meat ( I like to mix the meat with a tsp cornstarch  before I fry it, it stays juicier that way)

2 cups bean sprouts

1/2  cooked Chinese vermicelli

1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

2 Tbsp. oil, plus more for frying (I like to just fry them in a pan)

1 pkg. spring roll wrappers (thawed if frozen)

2 Tbsp. regular soy sauce

2 Tbsp. fish sauce ( oyster sauce works too)

2 Tbsp. lime juice

1/4 tsp. sugar


Add oil into a deep frying pan or if you have one into a wok.  Add the garlic, galangal and ginger, the green onion and chilli. Stir-fry for about a minute. It may look like it`s not enough oil in the pan but believe me it is.

Now it`s time to add the cabbage, mushrooms and meat to the pan. Add the soy and fish ( oyster) sauce, not to forget the lime juice and the sugar to the mix. Stir-fry for 2 to 3 more minutes.

Remove the pan/wok from the heat and add the sprouts.

Give the filling a taste for seasoning let it cool for a few minutes. Add the basil and coriander and vermicelli.

Assemble the rolls:

Place a spring roll wrapper on the working surface. Place one heaping Tbsp. of the filling on the wrapper fold the sides of wrapper over filling, then lift up the wide end nearest you and tuck overtop.

Roll to the other end. Secure the roll by dipping your fingers in some water and wetting the end, "pasting" it shut.

Now you can deep fry the rolls or bake them in the pan/wok that has about 1 inch of oil heated over medium high heat.

Allow them to fry for 1 minute on each side. We only have to give them a nice golden brown color the filling is already cook so we only heating it. 

Drain on a paper towel while frying the rest.

You can serve the rolls with a dipping sauce ( most people like Thai Sweet Chili Sauce ) or you can just eat them with a nice tossed salad.

Jan 15, 2010

Kids in the Kitchen: They made Breakfast alone...

Why do they do this to me?

I could tell you all kind of cute stories about my boys. I could tell you that I love them, that they are clever, but you see maybe they are to clever.

Each Day this two can help me cooking, I always think about something for them to do. Because they are only allowed in the kitchen with a grownup. you want to know why? look at the pictures.
Yes I know they are just playing, but can`t they use there own kitchen?
But the biggest problem is on the second Picture to see.

Yes I am happy they were unable to open the Milk and yes I was lucky this time that they had not come to the eggs yet.  But do you also see that sharp knife??

They make me so mad, in the middle of the night they get up and do things like that. should I stop cooking with them? cook more with them?

The only thing I know is that I will sure make some Pictures. This little Top chefs want to cook so why not show it to you.

Have a lovely Day and let somebody cook for you.

Jan 8, 2010

Challenging myself : Daring Cooks' January Challenge Thai-inspired Chicken Satay

The January 2010 DC challenge was hosted by Cuppy of Cuppylicious and she chose a delicious Thai-inspired recipe for Pork Satay from the book 1000 Recipes by Martha Day.

I must say that I had Satay a few times, a few ways. This version was new to me.

As it is with most new recipes I will have to work, to make it more fitting for our taste buds, but this one has potential.   

Cuppy was kind enough to not only give us the receipt for the Satay we were also given a recipe for a Peanut Sauce.

On to the challenge, we don`t eat much Pork, we just don`t like it. So I used chicken breasts. Normally I would have used chicken tights but I was just not in the mood for the longer wait.

The sliced up chicken breast only took 15 minutes to marinate and this time I used to make the Peanut Sauce. I used a double broiler to heat up the Sauce, it`s important to let it not get to hot.

The recipes are pretty easy and most of the ingredients I usually have at home, not that this stopped me from having a little fun in the Asia shop ( 45 Euro to be exact).

It`s not really Thai, it tastes more Indian. One of the twins was running away screaming that he would not eat it. My husband took one bite and mumbled that it was not so bad, but he would not eat it.

So the younger one of the twins and I shared them. He liked the chicken a lot, but the sauce had too much chili so I did not let him  taste it.

I think the marinade needs a little more salt, which would have been added with the optional fish sauce, I forgot to buy ( only I can buy half of the Asia Shop and forget the reason I was there in the first place).

It was fun, it was nice, will I do it again?

Yes but I would marinade bigger pieces of meat. Add salt. Roast the coriander and cumin in the oil to give it a more powerful ( more Indian ) taste.

Give it a try and take a look at the amazing things all the other Daring Cooks did with this Challenge. You can find pictures and the original Challenge here.

Pork Satay with Peanut Sauce

Satay Marinade


1/2 small onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 T ginger root, chopped (optional) (2 cm cubed)

2 T lemon juice (1 oz or 30 mls)

1 T soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)

1 tsp ground coriander (5 mls)

1 tsp ground cumin (5 mls)

1/2 tsp ground turmeric (2-2.5 mls)

2 T vegetable oil (or peanut or olive oil) (30 mls)

1 pound of pork (loin or shoulder cuts) (16 oz or 450g)


Feeling the need to make it more Thai? Try adding a dragon chili, an extra tablespoon of ginger root, and 1 tablespoon (0.5 oz or 15 mls) of fish sauce. (I keep some premature (still green) dragon chili peppers in the freezer for just such an occasion.)


1a. Cheater alert: If you have a food processor or blender, dump in everything except the pork and blend until smooth. Lacking a food processor, I prefer to chop my onions, garlic and ginger really fine then mix it all together in a medium to large bowl.

2a. Cut pork into 1 inch strips.

3a. Cover pork with marinade. You can place the pork into a bowl, cover/seal and chill, or place the whole lot of it into a ziplock bag, seal and chill.



Faster (cheaper!) marinade:


2 T vegetable oil (or peanut or olive oil) (1 oz or 30 mls)

2 T lemon juice (1 oz or 30 mls)

1 T soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)

1 tsp ginger powder (5 mls)

1 tsp garlic powder (5 mls)

1 tsp cayenne pepper (5 mls)



1b. Mix well.

2b. Cut pork into 1 inch thick strips (2-2.5 cm thick), any length.

3b. Cover pork with marinade. You can place the pork into a bowl, cover/seal and chill, or place the whole lot of it into a ziplock bag, seal and chill.


Cooking Directions (continued):


4. If using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak your skewers in warm water for at least 20 minutes before preparing skewers.

5. Gently and slowly slide meat strips onto skewers. Discard leftover marinade.*

6. Broil or grill at 290°C/550° F (or pan fry on medium-high) for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just start to char. Flip and cook another 8-10 minutes.


* If you’re grilling or broiling, you could definitely brush once with extra marinade when you flip the skewers.

Peanut Sauce


3/4 cup coconut milk (6 oz or 180 mls)

4 Tbsp peanut butter (2 oz or 60 mls)

1 Tbsp lemon juice (0.5 oz or 15 mls)

1 Tbsp soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)

1 tsp brown sugar (5 mls)

1/2 tsp ground cumin (2.5 mls)

1/2 tsp ground coriander (2.5 mls)

1-2 dried red chilies, chopped (keep the seeds for heat)


1. Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add soy sauce and lemon, mix well.

2. Over low heat, combine coconut milk, peanut butter and your soy-lemon-seasoning mix. Mix well, stir often.

3. All you’re doing is melting the peanut butter, so make your peanut sauce after you’ve made everything else in your meal, or make ahead of time and reheat.

Jan 6, 2010

Let us eat Cake: Lemon Yogurt Cake

I love lemons, they are pretty, they smell clean and fresh, they are so useful.

I always buy lemons, each time I go into the supermarket I buy some, when I go to the farmers market I buy some.  I always have them at home.

The only problem is that nobody wants to eat them. I tried lemon chicken, they did not like it. I gave lemon pound cake a try, they did not like it.

I made lemon curd. My hubby not even gave it a try.

I baked this cake, using the muffin method and they ate it all. There is no cake left. 3 hours after the cake was baked it was gone.

And I don`t want to tell you the horrible things my twin boys did. I only will say that while I was cleaning the bathroom they ate the cake, ripping it apart in their haste to get it all.

Next time I will  buy one or two more lemons.


Lemon Yogurt Cake


3/4 cup plain yogurt

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup vegtable oil


1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons powdered sugar for decoration

Preheat the oven to 175C. butter a round cake pan, line with a parchment circle.

In a bowl mix the flour and the baking powder. I another bowl now mix the yogurt, sugar, zest, oil and all 3 eggs. Now just if you would bake muffins add the flour mix and stir just to combine. 

Don`t over work the batter or you will have a tough cake with ugly air holes in it.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the cake tester is clean. My cake was finished after 28 minutes so I would take a look after the cake baked for 25 minutes. The baking time depends on how large your eggs are and how much water is in your yogurt.

Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then gently remove it.

While the cake is still hot combine the lemon juice and the powered sugar, slowly spoon it gently over the cake. Making sure that the cake has a chance to soak up as much of the tart syrup as possible.

Let the cake cool completely. Before serving give it a sprinkle of fresh powdered sugar.

Playing with dough: Chives Rolls

Finally I can bake again. I am so happy that I don`t have to bake cookies.

I love to bake bread, it makes me happy and so I thought why not bake some rolls to be eaten with a nice hot bowl of soup.

We love potato soup and like to sprinkle fresh chives over the top. The only problem is that I don`t have fresh chives at the moment. 

Not in the Garden because its freezing, not on the windowsill because I am unable to keep it alive. 

Yes I kill  herbs. In my kitchen.

Then I remembered that I had a cup of frozen chives, they are not as good as the fresh ones but I think they are good enough for what I had in mind.

So after a trip into the snow, we had our potato soup and we had chives. just not as usual.

They are delicious and have a nice chive flavor to them, give them a try and tell me what you think. I am so proud of them I’m sending this over to YeastSpotting.

 Chives Rolls


250g bread flour

250g all-purpose flour

40g fresh yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

330g milk

1 cup cut chives

3 tablespoons oil ( I like to use canola oil)

1 teaspoon salt

sesame seed

In the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook, combine the bread and the all-purpose flour, mix the sugar the milk and the yeast and add it to the flour. Knead on low speed until combined.

Let it rest for 10 minutes.

Add the salt, the oil and the chives. Knead the dough until it`s smooth and elastic. Put it into a bowl, cover and ferment for 30 minutes. 

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface.

Divide into 16 pieces for the rolls. 

Shape the dough pieces into balls and for a sesame seed topping, roll the top surface of the dough on a wet towel and then in sesame seeds.

Place the rolls, seam-side-down, onto a baking tray, I like to use baking parchment but this is up to you. Slash each roll with two cuts.

Proof, covered, for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 225C.

Bake for 10 minutes, lower the temperature to 200C and bake for 20 more minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

You can eat them with soup, or make little ham and cheese sandwiches or just with some cream cheese. Either way we sure will make some more.