Gingerbread Men


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Last week as we were preparing our kitchen for a children cooking class, Lisa asked me if we could make a real gingerbread house. I did not have time then, but planned to do that this week-end. And so we did. Yesterday morning, I set out to prepare gingerbread men, and Lisa worked at making the dough and the paper patterns for the gingerbread house. It was so much fun;-) It had been such a long time since we last decorated cookies together. I had missed it. Almost like being a child again. We spent our morning making various gingerbread men. I used the recipe from http://www.simplyrecipes.com that I halved.

Ingredients for about 20 2-3 inches gingerbread men:

  • 1 1/2 and 2 tbsp cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 and 2 tbsp teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 stick of unsalted butter (room temperature, softened)
  • 1/4 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • half of a large egg ( mix the egg well and use half of it)
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses

Royal Icing:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 3/4 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)

In a large bowl, add all the dry ingredients and mix well.  Set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar until the mixture becomes whitish and fluffy. Add the eggs and  the molasse. Gradually add the flour mixture but beat at a very low speed so as not to make a mess;-) Then with your hands mold the dough into a ball. Divide the dough in 4 balls, and wrap each ball into plastic wrap. Place those in the fridge to cool for at least an hour. When you are ready to roll those gingerbread men, place the roulpat on your counter. I used the large one. Place one ball on the roulpat, and flatten it with your hand. Then roll the dough flat into about 3/15 of an inch with a rolling pin. Not too thick and not to thick. Place the gingerbread men on a large silpat that you would have placed on a perforated sheet and cook them in a warm oven for 8-10 minutes or until they are firm but not darkened. Remove them from oven and let them cool before decorating.

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Royal Icing
The traditional way to make Royal Icing is to beat egg whites and lemon juice together, adding the powdered sugar until the mixture holds stiff peaks. With modern concerns about salmonella from raw eggs, you can either use powdered egg whites or heat the egg whites first to kill any bacteria.

With the heating method, mix the egg white and lemon juice with a third of the sugar into a bowl that you would place over a pot of boiling water. Stir vigorously so that the eggs will not cook, but the mixture will get warm to the touch or until the mixture’s temperature is 160°F.  Remove the bowl from the boiling water, add the sugar and beat until you have stiff peaks.

If you are doing the cold method, mix 2 egg whites with 2/3 cups of sugar and beat until the mixture is fluffy and makes hard peaks. Add lemon juice to get the consistency that you need. If this icing is too runny, add more powdered sugar until you get the desired consistency.

Use a pastry bag with a writing tip or plastic ziploc bags. Place an open ziploc bag into a bowl and spoon the icing in it. Close the bag, cut the corner and decorate the gingerbread men as you wish. Et voila!!!

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Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Chocolate Crumble Pie


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Poached Pear Tart with Maple Pastry Cream


Where does time go???? You must be wondering why I am not posting as many recipes theses days, but time seem to be fading away faster these days than they ever were or is it me just getting more busy? I am still cooking and making up recipes but I have to choose between sleeping or writing in my blog and I have been choosing to sleep. You will understand;-)

My son turned 15 at the beginning of the month. 15 already;-( Well this young man looks nothing like he used to at his birth at a low weight of 1lb. and 4oz. ( he was born at 24 weeks). Today he is almost 6 feet and weigh 180 lbs.

His birthday fell on a weekday so we had a party for it the following Sunday with all the uncles, aunts and cousins. He wanted to have an ice-cream cake so I  went to the closest ice-cream parlour and bought him a cake.

Of course I was not going to serve a bought  ice-cream cake to my guests. I am a much better host than that. Instead I decided to make a pear tart with a maple custard cream.

This recipe is for a  9 inch pie or for about 6 3 1/16 individual pies.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 2 sticks of butter at room temperature,
  • 2 1/2 cup of sugar,
  • 2 cups of flour,
  • 1 tsp of salt. 
  • 1 cup of whole milk,
  • 3 large egg yolks,
  • 2 1/2 tbsp of cornstarch,
  • 1/2 cup of whipped cream homemade,
  • 2-4 tbsp of maple syrup.
  • 2/3 pears or 1 can of canned pear halves.

Ingredients for the pate sablee ( or shortbread pie dough): 2 sticks of butter at room temperature, 3/4 cup of sugar, 2 cups of flour, 1 tsp of salt. 

In a mixer beat the butter and the sugar until it fluffs up and becomes a pale yellow. Reduce the speed and slowly add the flour and the salt. Mix until the dough becomes crumbly. Do not overmix. With your hands, shape a ball then cover the ball with some plastic wrap and let it cool in the fridge for 30 minutes and up to 2 days. Turn the oven to 375. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, place the dough on the large roul’pat, and with a rolling pin, roll a 11 inch circle if you want to make a large pie or cut small circles using the dough cutter of of 3 1/16. Place the dough into the large round mold or in the opening of the medium tartlet tray. Perforate the dough with a fork. Place a parchment paper over the dough. Fill the parchment paper/ pie with some dry white bean and cook the dough at 375 for 15 minutes. When it is cooked, remove it from the oven, and let it cool. When it is cooled, remove the beans and the parchment paper and set aside for later use.

While the pie is cooling prepare the maple pastry cream.

Ingredients for the maple pastry cream: 1 cup of whole milk, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, 3 large egg yolks, 2 1/2 tbsp of cornstarch, 1/2 cup of whipped cream, 2-4 tbsp of maple syrup.

Pour the milk into a small saucepan and cook the milk until it is almost boiling. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture is becoming lighter in color and is becoming fluffer. Add the cornstarch and mix well. Pour the milk slowly into the egg mixture while stirring. Place the mixture back onto the stove and cook at a medium temperature until it is becoming really really thick. Remove it from the stove.Place the mixture into a bowl and into the fridge to cool.

Poached Pear:  2 to 3 pears, 1/2 cup of sugar. 

Peel the pears and slice them thinly. Place the pears on the flexipat. Drizzle 1/2 cup of sugar over the pears. Cover the pears with a medium silpat and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the pears are poached and tender. Let them cool.

If you do not have time, you may use canned pears. They are a great substitute.

When the pastry cream is cooled. Slowly add the whipped cream to the pastry cream. Also flavor the cream with the maple syrup. You may use 2-4 tbsp of maple syrup.

To prepare the pies. Place the cream into a plastic bag and pipe the cream into the pies. Lay the pears slices over the cream superposing them. For the small tartlets you will only be able to place 3 to 4 slices. For the big pie you will place the pear slices going around the pie crust.

For added decoration I drizzled some fresh caramel over the pear tart. Making caramel is quite easy. You place 1 cup of sugar into a small saucepan and you place the saucepan onto the stove at medium high temperature. Do not mix, just be patient. The sugar will start dissolving and will start to get an amber color on the outer rim. At that point start stirring until the caramel is a light golden color. With a spoon, drizzle the caramel over the pies et voila!!!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Asiago, Asparagus and Roasted Bell Pepper Tart


What to fix when you have little time to be in the kitchen. Hum… I don’t know. My husband offered to make croque-monsieur but I thought that maybe my kids would enjoy something a bit better than that.  I don’t like to “laisser mes renes”, so it is difficult for me to let go of my kitchen even when I am overwhelmed.  I went straight home from school on Thursday so I had to make do with what was in my fridge. After finding my treasures, I decided to fix them a tart with roasted bell pepper, asparagus and Asiago cheese. Not too bad…and it was fast, and yummy!!!

Ingredients: 1 sheet of puff pastry, 1 red pepper roasted cut in thin strips ( you may roast your own or buy those cans of roasted bell pepper ( they are cheaper than making your own), 1 bundle of fresh green asparagus cut in 2 inches, 1/2 red onion sliced very thinly, 1 cup of bacon ( optional), 3 cups of young Asiago cheese grated, 1/2 cup of parmesan shredded, salt, pepper and 1 tbsp of rosemary, thyme seasoning from DemarleatHome.

Roll out the dough on the roulpat and with a rolling-pin roll the dough so that it will fit the medium flexipan. With a fork, perforate the dough so that air bubbles will not form. Spread the shredded Asiago cheese all over the dough. Then spread the vegetables. Sprinkle the bacon over the vegetables, then the 1 tsp of rosemary seasoning, then the parmesan. Cook in a warm oven at 425 for 20 minutes. So simple, so quick and soooo good;-)

You may serve this great tart with a green salad. C’est tout!!!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Fancy Easy Napoleon: Blackberry Napoleon


People are uncomfortable using ingredients, or food that they are not familiar with. Fillo dough is one of them. When I use this medium in my cooking classes, most attendees are either very unfamiliar with it, or confide that they are too scared to use it. Fillo dough is very easy to use and make delicious and beautiful fares. In one of my previous post, I presented you a fat-free Strawberry Napoleon. It was so easy to make and a delight to eat. In this recipe I am making a Napoleon again but used blackberry because they offer a beautiful contrast against the whipped cream , but you can use any fruit your heart desires;-)

Ingredients for 4: I pack of the fillo dough, 1 box of blackberry ( about 8 oz), 4 tbsp of melted butter, granulated sugar, 1 1/2 of heavy cream, 1 tsp of vanilla extract.

Take one of the pack out of the package of the fillo dough and place the other one back into the freezer. Unroll the fillo dough out on the roulpat and cut a series of 2.5 inches circles.You will need to count the sheets of fillo dough and cut as many circles as you need.  You will need 12 sheets or circles per person. Divide those circles in series of two sheets. With a pastry brush, spread the melted butter on each one of them and stack them with another 2 sheet circles. Sprinkle some granulated sugar. Place them on the silpat and cook those stacks at 410 for 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the whipped cream. Place the cream in a mixer, 2 tbsp of sugar and the vanilla extract and whip the cream at medium low-speed and whip until the cream, is forming soft peaks. Set aside. Remove the circles from the oven and let them cool completely before assembling them.

To prepare the Napoleon, place one circle on a plate spoon about 2 tbsp of whipped cream and place the blackberries all over the whipped cream . Place another circle and repeat. Place another circle and sprinkle some granulated sugar and squirt a bit of whipped cream for decoration. Et voila!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Turkey Roast with Mustard Sauce


I don’t know about you, but I feel like I have spent my last few days in the kitchen. So when it was time for dinner, I did not really plan to spend hours on my meal. What is good and yet so easy to fix: Roasts. I had seen this turkey roast at the grocery store and could not wait to cook it at home. It had been so long since I had eaten one.

Ingredients for 6 persons: 1 turkey roast, old-fashioned mustard, salt and pepper, 1 cup of broth.

Remove the netting from the roast. Place the meat on the roulpat, roll the roulpat over the meat, and with the rolling-pin pound the meat until it is 1/2 inch thick and even throughout. Using a cooking brush cover the meat with the mustard, and sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper. Roll the meat over itself and place it back into its netting. Cover the outside of the roast with mustard, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a large pot, melt 2 tbsp of butter and when the butter is sizzling, brown the outside of the roast by turning the roast in the frying pan. Turn the heat down to low, add 1 cup of chicken broth, cover the pot with a lid and cook for 45 minutes. You may need to turn the roast periodically to cook it evenly. You may also place the roast in a deep flexipan, add a cup of broth and cook it in the oven at 400 for 45 minutes. When the roast has cooked, remove it from the oven, or from the stove and let it rest for 10 minutes. Afterwards, lay the meat on a cutting board, cut the roast in slices, and add 1 cup of heavy cream or milk to the pot. You may also add 1 more tablespoon of mustard if you want the sauce to have a more pronounced mustard flavor. Season with salt and pepper, stir well and bring the sauce to boil for 2 minutes. Serve the roast with steamed potatoes or scalloped potatoes and drizzle the sauce over the potatoes and the roast. Et voila!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

NB You can do the same recipe with a pork roast.

Oven Roasted Chicken with Sauteed Chanterelles


I was so excited to come home last night and cook those Chanterelles. They brought back so many good memories, I could not wait to taste those flavors again. I knew what I was going to do with the mushrooms. But what to fix with that?! My husband was having croque-monsieur again so that gave me the chance to cook what he does not like: poultry or fish:-)

Ingredients per person: 1 chicken breast, 2 shallots, 1 cup of chanterelles diced, 1/3 cup of  white wine. 1/2 tsp of fresh parsley, green onion and red pepper herb mix from Demarle, olive oil.

Place the chicken breast on the middle of the roulpat, fold the roulpat over to cover the chicken breast. Pound the chicken breast with a pastry rolling pin until it is nicely even across. It should be about 1/3 inch thick. In a small bowl, mix 1 tsp of olive oil, 1/16 of salt, 1/32 tsp of pepper, 1/16 tsp of green onion/red pepper mix. With a pastry brush, brush the chicken with this mixture. Place the chicken on the silpat and cook in warm oven at 375 for 10 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the mushrooms. In a small frying pan, melt 1 tbsp of butter and saute the mushrooms. Season with a dash of pepper and salt. Add 1/2 tsp of parsley, 1/3 cup of white wine and cook for 5 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated. Remove the mushrooms from the frying pan. In the same frying pan, add 1 tbsp of butter. When the butter is melted, add 1 tsp of flour. Mix well and add 1/2 cup of white wine. Add a dash of salt and pepper and bring the mixture to boil stirring. Lower the temperature to medium-low and continue stirring until the sauce is thickening. Add 1/2 tsp of chopped parsley. Set aside.

Cut the chicken breast in thin strips and spoon the mushroom mixture in between each slice. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken and enjoy!!!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!