Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gingerbread Muffins...Minus Any Actual Ginger..

Man I've been slacking haven't I?  After all this knee business, the terrible weather, the great weather and my general laziness I've been pretty much down and out. Actually, I've made some pretty awesome things lately.  Chocolate fudge, some awesome chocolate chip cookies, an absolutely delicious cranberry orange pecan bread..but yea. I'm a shitty blogger, but I'm back and I'm coming up swinging with these awesome gingerbread man inspired muffins just in time for Christmas.

I had every intention of making actual gingerbread and just baking it in muffin cups, but then I realized that I didn't have any ginger...nor did I have anything close to what was needed as far as butter.  But what I did have was tons of other spices and an entire bag of butter wrappers in the back of the fridge.  So what do you do when you don't have anything but butter wrappers and need half a cup?  You throw on those aprons ladies.  It's Macgyver time.

You can bet your sweet ass I scraped down every single one of those butter wrappers.  I loaded it up into a big old butter ball and weighed it.  113 grams is roughly half a cup and that would do for any muffin recipe.  I got 105.  Close enough.  Next I had to decide what I was gonna do without any ginger, so I found some recipes, and what do you know?  Ginger, ginger everywhere.  I decided the best bet was to do what I usually do when I can't find what I want.  Take a base flour amount and throw the rest out the window.  I grabbed every random holiday sounding spice I could find in my cabinet and sniffed them.  If it smelled like Christmas it went in these muffins.  I used a fairly large amount of allspice since it contains the base spices needed for this anyway, then topped it off with some other things to boost it up even more. 

The result in a beautifully scented, sweet, Christmas-y muffin that tastes so remarkably close to gingerbread that no one, not even you, will know that it is missing the one thing that actually makes it so.  They are light and fluffy straight out of the oven, but the next day they moisten into a scrumption sugary cake like consistency.  Perfect with a cup of coffee and way more satisfying than any cookie could be.  The best part?  You can still make them into a cute little gingerbread man head then bite his face off.

Gingerbread Muffins

2 3/4 Cup/12 oz. Flour
2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon Allspice
1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/8 teaspoon Cardamom
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon Cloves
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Mace
1/2 Cup/113g Butter, softened
1/2-3/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed
2 large Eggs, room temperature
3/4 Cup Molasses/Dark Syrup
3/4 cup Sour Cream/Yogurt

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.  Line two muffin tins.

Combine flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together* for at least three minutes.  It should be very light and fluffy.   
 *(Whether you use 1/2 or 3/4 cup of sugar is up to you but please make sure you use DARK brown sugar!  It has more molasses which adds to the flavor of the muffins)*

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well in between each one.
*If you don't want to wait for room temp eggs, just put them in a bowl of really hot water for a few minutes and you're good to go*

Add half of flour mix and beat just to combine. Add sour cream or yogurt and beat well.  Gently fold in the rest of flour mix just until combined.

Fill cups 1/2 to 3/4 full and top with coarse sugar.  Bake 12 to 18 minutes, depending on your oven. If they don't look done at 12 minutes, check them at 15 to see if they test clean give or take a crumb or two.  Cool in the pan for a few minutes then move to a rack to cool.

Makes 2 dozen muffins.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Apple Persimmon Butter Cake

The other day I was given the opportunity by the wonderful Jorell to come help him out with a Thanksgiving dinner being held for the Red Cross Youth Center.  Well ya know I had to do it, I mean I can't let people go eating a can of corn and calling it Thanksgiving.  I also refused to show up empty handed because that's just how I roll.  The only problem...what the hell should I bring?

I scoured my cabinets, wracked my brain and trolled around the interwebs desperately searching for something that would feed a crowd, be somewhat seasonal and simple to throw together.  After finding a nice basic recipe and consulting my fruit bowl this pretty little cake was brought upon us.

Covered in apples, cinnamon, almonds and spicy persimmons this cake is a winner for me.  It is dense but moist,  slightly sweet and the flavor from the fruit was able to shine through.  It was exactly what I was going for and I am glad it turned out as it did.  It was a good ending to our little Thanksgiving that turned out better than I could have expected. 

A big thank you again goes out to Jorell and all the wonderful girls that helped in the kitchen to give everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving! It was fantastic for Bellamy and I to be a part of it and make some great new friends.  I'm looking forward to the next one!

Apple Persimmon Butter Cake
recipe adapted from Gourmet

*The recipe stated here is doubled and for an 11 inch springform*

2 Cups/250g Flour
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon, divided
1 Cup/226g Butter, softened
1 1/2 Cup Sugar
4 Eggs
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 handfuls Sliced Almonds
1 Persimmon, quartered and sliced
1 Apple, quartered and sliced
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon and 1 Tablespoon Sugar, combined

Preheat oven to 350F/175C.  Lightly butter an 11in/28cm Springform pan.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each egg.  Mix in extracts, then add the flour mixture and fold to combine.

Spread the batter in the pan, pushing the batter slightly higher around the sides.  This will ensure the cake bakes evenly given it's so large.  

Mix together the sliced apples and persimmons, almonds and cinnamon sugar mixture.

Scatter all over the top of the batter and bake for 40 - 50 minutes until it tests clean.

Cool in the pan or serve warm.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hazelnut Almond Brittle

Brittle..who doesn't love it?  It's nuts covered in sugar and left to dry into a crunchy block of toffee goodness.  You know what else it is?  Super easy!  All you need is a bowl, a microwave and 10 minutes. 

You can make this with any nut or combination.  You can add dried fruit or even toffee nuts if you want to get real crazy.  I think dried mango and cashew brittle sounds awesome.  Or maybe even dried strawberry and macadamia nuts.  You can get very creative with this.  I used hazelnuts and almonds because that's what I had and it is fantastic.  You could skip the nuts all together and make a brittle full of seeds.

This is a great make a head recipe as it stays good for weeks, if not longer, and is relatively cheap and definitely simple.  Older kids can make this themselves and pack it in pretty cellophane bags for great homemade gifts to teachers or friends.  Little kids can still help too, they would be great for doing all the smashing!  

Hazelnut Almond Brittle

1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1 teaspoon Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Cup Nuts, chopped
You can add anything you want, as long as it's something that won't melt

*Be very careful when handling the bowl from the microwave, the sugar/bowl will be hot!*

Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with aluminum foil and lightly greasing it with non stick spray.

Combine sugar and corn syrup in a large microwave safe bowl until well blended.  Heat on high for FOUR minutes.  Remove from the microwave and stir in nuts and/or other additions. Mix well.  Return to microwave for FOUR minutes.

Remove from the microwave and stir in butter and vanilla.  Return to microwave for two minutes.

Stir in baking soda until it is nice and foamy, then immediately pour onto prepared baking sheet and quickly spread out with a greased spatula.  Try to get it thin, but make sure there are no holes. 

Let cool and set for 30 - 45 minutes, depending on thickness.  Smash it apart into desired size pieces and store in an airtight container.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mini Banana Bread Donuts

I just can't help myself you guys.  I think I need an intervention.  That or a good swift kick to the head.  You see I'm totally gimped out after my knee surgery and can't do much more than hobble back and forth to the bathroom, but my logic is that the kitchen is actually closer than the bathroom so that makes it okay.

My doctor told me to sit on my ass for three weeks...three weeks!  Is he nuts?  He must be, cause that isn't happening.  So what's a girl addicted to cooking supposed to do?  Well, she straps on that cyborg leg brace, wraps that ankle up, chows down two horse sized pain killers and gets that shit done son.  She keeps it easy, no more than ten minutes to throw together.  And the result?  Banana bread donuts. Damn straight.

These are technically not donuts, but they have a hole in the middle so I say they are donuts and your argument is invalid regardless because I'm always right even when I'm not.  They are made from banana bread batter, absolutely nothing fancy besides some dark chocolate thrown in a couple batches.  They take about 6 minutes per dozen and about 30 seconds to get the next batch in.  This is a fantastic recipe for kids to make on their own, it's simple and fun to do.  You could get creative with it by making frostings or glazes.

These are full of fruit, flax seed and other goodness like sugar.  Perfect for kids!  They would be really cute as finger food at baby showers too.  You could even use them as cupcake toppers on banana cupcakes that would be adorable.  Give them a try and let me know what you think.

Mini Banana Bread Donuts 
recipe adapted from Cake On The Brain

1 1/4 Cup Flour
3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
85g (3/4 Cup) Bremykt, room temperature
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Egg
2 Bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 teaspoons Ground Flax Seeds
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
Dark Chocolate, optional

Preheat oven to 425F/218C.  Grease a mini muffin tin with non stick spray.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, flax seed and cinnamon.  Set aside.
Cream together butter and brown sugar until thick and lightened in color.  Add banana, egg and vanilla.  Beat until thick.  Add flour mix and beat just to combine.  Put into a piping bag or ziploc bag and trim the corner.  This will make filling the donut tray much easier.

Fill each donut tray half way full.  Any more than that and they will puff over the hole and it will just be a muffin.  Bake 6 - 7 minutes and remove from the tray immediately.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Check It Check It Out

Hey guys!  I recently did a guest post for my fellow ex pat blogger Selina.  Go over and check out my post and her great blog over on Den Norske Listen.   

You can see my post right here.

If you guys wanna make me something to drown my sorrows then please do.  I will be the happiest couch ridden gimp you've ever known.    

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Daring Bakers September - Croissants!

The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

Finally, I can compete!  I've been following Daring Bakers for months now, and not until this month has a challenge been feasible for me.  But croissants?  Yeah buddy.  I made mine three different ways.  Some are plain, others filled with chopped almond and dark chocolate, and the rest...brunost!!  (That's brown, caramelized cheese for the non - scandinavians).  Those are the absolute best in my opinion, it goes so well and tastes divine.

At first glance, croissants seem rather daunting.  These are very time consuming, but keep in mind that the amount of time you are actually doing any work is minimal.  There are many, many steps involved in making these flaky little beauties, but none of them are difficult.  The hardest part about them is the waiting.  Can you wait?  If so, you can make croissants. I did, and we all know that I am the most impatient person in the whole entire world.  I do not like to be kept waiting, not one little bit.  I made an exception for these though, simply because I could get them back when I shoved them in my face.  Take that croissants.

If you want to join in with the Daring crew, head over to The Daring Kitchen and sign up!  There is cooking, baking, and alternative cooking and baking.  It's all about fun and you don't even have to be a blogger to participate.  


Recipe Source
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two. Julia Child and Simone Beck

Preparation time
In total, 12 hours
 Making dough: 10 mins
First Rise: 3 hours
Kneading and Folding: 5 mins
Second Rise: 1.5 hours (or overnight in the fridge)
Rolling in the Butter (turns one and two): 15 mins
First Rest: 2 hours
Turns Three and Four: 10 mins
Second Rest:
2 hours (or overnight in the fridge)
Forming Croissants: 30 mins
Final Rise: 1 hour (or longer in the fridge)
Baking: 15 mins

Equipment Required:
• Measuring cups
• Measuring spoons
• Mixing bowls of numerous sizes
• Rubber spatula
• Plastic bag
• Pastry scraper
• Counter space or board for rolling and kneading
• Rolling pin
• Plastic wrap
• Baking tray

Servings: 12 croissants 

 ¼ oz/7g Fresh Yeast OR 1¼ teaspoon/4g Dry Yeast
 3 tablespoons Lukewarm Water
 1 teaspoon Sugar
 1 3/4 cups/225g of Flour
 2 teaspoons Sugar
 1½ teaspoon Salt
 ½ cup Milk
 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
 ½ cup/115g Unsalted Butter, Chilled
 1 Egg, for egg wash

Here are the steps to making croissants...all 57 of them.  Don't be afraid!  It's a whole lot of reading and not at all a lot of work. 

1. Mix the yeast, water, and first teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Leave aside for the yeast and sugar to dissolve and the yeast to foam up a little.

2. Measure out the other ingredients.

3. Heat the milk until lukewarm and dissolve in the salt and remaining sugar.

4. Place the flour in a large bowl.

5. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and milk mixture to the flour.

6. Mix all the ingredients together using the rubber spatula, just until all the flour is incorporated.

7. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and let it rest a minute while you wash out the bowl.

8. Knead the dough eight to ten times only.

9. Place the dough back in the bowl, and place the bowl in the plastic bag.

10. Leave the bowl in a warm place for three hours, or until the dough has tripled in size.

11. After the dough has tripled in size, remove it gently from the bowl, pulling it away from the sides of the bowl with your fingertips.

12. Place the dough on a lightly floured board or counter top, and use your hands to press it out into a rectangle about 8 by 12 inches (20cm by 30cm). 

13. Fold the dough rectangle in three, like a letter (fold the bottom third up, then the top third down).

14. Place the dough back in the bowl, and the bowl back in the plastic bag.

15. Leave the dough to rise for another 1.5 hours, or until it has doubled in size. This second rise can be done overnight in the fridge.

16. Place the double-risen dough onto a plate and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place the plate in the fridge.

17. It’s time to incorporate the butter.

18. Place the block of chilled butter on a chopping board in between sheets of plastic wrap.

19. Using the rolling pin, beat the butter down a little.

20. Roll out into a smooth, thin square, don't worry about size. Set it in the fridge.

21. Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured board or counter. Let it rest for a minute or two.

22. Spread the dough using your hands into a rectangle about 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm). 

23. Remove the butter from the plastic wrap, and place it on the top half of the dough rectangle.

24. Spread the butter all across the top two-thirds of the dough rectangle, but keep it ¼ inch (6 mm) across from the edges.

25. Fold the bottom third of the dough up, and the top third of the dough down.

26. Turn the dough package 90 degrees, so that the top flap is facing to the right (like a book). 

27. Roll out the dough package (gently, so you don’t push the butter out of the dough) until it is again about 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).

28. Again, fold the bottom third up and the top third down.

29. Wrap the dough package in plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge for 2 hours. 

30. After two hours have passed, take the dough out of the fridge and place it again on the lightly floured board or counter.

31. Tap the dough with the rolling pin, to deflate it a little

32. Let the dough rest for 8 to 10 minutes

33. Roll the dough package out till it is 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).

34. Fold in three, as before

35. Turn 90 degrees, and roll out again to 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).

36. Fold in three for the last time, wrap in plastic, and return the dough package to the fridge for
two more hours (or overnight, with something heavy on top to stop it from rising)

37. It's time to cut the dough and shape the croissants

38. First, lightly butter your baking sheet or parchment paper so that it is ready.

39. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest for ten minutes on the lightly floured board or counter.

40. Roll the dough out into a 20 by 5 inch rectangle (51 cm by 12½ cm).

41. Cut the dough into two rectangles, each 10 by 5 inches (25½ cm by 12½ cm).

42. Place one of the rectangles in the fridge, to keep the butter cold.

43. Roll the second rectangle out until it is 15 by 5 inches (38 cm by 12½ cm).

44. Cut the rectangle into three squares, each 5 by 5 inches (12½ cm by 12½ cm).

45. Place two of the squares in the fridge.

46. The remaining square may have shrunk up a little bit in the meantime. Roll it out again till it is nearly square

47. Cut the square diagonally into two triangles.

48. Stretch the triangle out a little, so it is not a right-angle triangle, but more of an isosceles. 

49. Starting at the wide end, roll the triangle up towards the point, and curve into a crescent shape.

50. Place the unbaked croissant on the baking sheet

51. Repeat the process with the remaining squares of dough, creating 12 croissants in total.

52. Leave the tray of croissants, covered lightly with plastic wrap, to rise for 1 hour.

53. Preheat the oven to 475°F/240°C.

54. Mix the egg with a teaspoon of water

55. Spread the egg wash across the tops of the croissants.

56. Put the croissants in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the tops are browned nicely.

57. Take the croissants out of the oven and place them on a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

And there you have it!  A dozen beautiful, flaky croissants.  Easy, right? 
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Monday, September 26, 2011

Simple Dark Chocolate Dipped Shortbread

I love butter cookies, they are what your thighs getting fatter tastes like.  Dipped in chocolate?  Add another ass cheek.  That doesn't matter though, nothing wrong with having a little meat on your bones right?  And what a delicious way to get it.

These are super simple cookies, there are only 5 ingredients in the recipe, 90% of it being butter.  They would be excellent for people with celiac disease. Just replace the flour with a gluten free variety or mix. You could easily make them vegan as well.  You can flavor these cookies in any way you can come up with.  Some simple ideas would be switching almond or citrus extract for the vanilla, adding 50g of cocoa powder or adding nuts or sea salt to the chocolate after you dip them. Skies the limit.

So go ahead and make these little things.  Use any shape you want, or cut them into squares with a pizza cutter.  Poke holes or don't, make sure they are perfect or don't.  I like my imperfect little cookies, full of fingerprint marks and scratches.  Adds to their charm I'd say.

Shortbread Cookies  
recipe from Joy of Baking 

2 Cups/260g Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup/226g Butter, room temp
1/2 Cup/60g Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
 6 oz/180g Chocolate, chopped and separated 

Beat the butter until smooth and creamy, add powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla extract and beat until combined.  Mix the flour and salt, then slowly add to the butter mixture, folding together until flour is just incorporated.  Dump out on the counter and form into a disc.  Wrap in plastic and set in the fridge for 1 hour, or freezer for 20 minutes or until thoroughly chilled.

Preheat oven to 350F/175C.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Once chilled, unwrap and roll out onto a lightly floured surface.  If the dough is sticking bad, re-wrap it and chill for a while longer.  Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and then cut into desired shapes.  Transfer to the baking sheet and bake 8 - 12 minutes, depending on thickness.  If thicknesses vary, some will just be crunchier and some softer.  Nothing wrong with that.  Transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely.

While cookies are cooling, melt 90g/3oz of the chopped chocolate over a double boiler.  Once fully melted, remove the bowl and gradually stir in the remaining chocolate.  This is to temper the chocolate.  Once all the chocolate has been melted in, begin dipping your cookies however you like.  Scrape off the excess chocolate along the edge of the bowl and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Set the dipped cookies in the fridge or freezer for 5 - 10 minutes to set.  Store in an airtight container. 

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Banana Bundt Cake With Cinnamon Yogurt Glaze

Banana's one of those things that no one bakes on purpose.  The only reason I ever make banana bread is to prevent the bananas from growing limbs and attacking me in my sleep.  I do love it though, so I take pleasure in mashing my zombie nanners and eating their delicious flesh before they eat mine.  

By the way, a great way to obliterate the zombie banana army is with a potato ricer.

Reincarnated into slabs of soft, fluffy deliciousness.  Drizzled with sweet, yogurty war paint.

 Face what you shall become devil fruit!

 Banana Bundt Cake 

1 1/3 Cup Flour
3/4  Cup Sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
2/3 Cup Butter, softened 
2 1/2 Very Ripe Bananas, mashed
2 Large or 3 Medium Eggs
2 teaspoons Vanilla

 Preheat oven to 325F/160C.  Grease and line/flour whichever pan you're going to use.

Combine all the dry ingredients and set aside.  Mash the bananas (use a potato ricer! It's very satisfying!) and mix in the softened butter.  Mix in the eggs and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold together to combine.  Pour into prepared pan.
 Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until tester comes out clean.

Cool in pan ten minutes before turning out onto a rack.

Cinnamon Yogurt Glaze 

1/2 Cup Greek or Plain Yogurt
1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla 
 Mix all until smooth.  Chill 30 minutes before using.   This is also great for dipping apples!
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Monday, September 19, 2011

Bear With Me Here Peeps

Big things are coming my way, I'm gonna be down and out for quite a while.  I'll be having some major surgery on my leg in a few weeks so I won't be posting much if at all for a while.  I'll try my best to get a few things up in the meantime, and I do have a thing or two planned so watch out for it.

Since I don't want my site falling by the wayside, I'll be more than happy to accept some help from fellow bloggers!  If anyone wants to do a guest post or two please let me know!  I'd love to get to know some of you guys and it should would keep me happy while I'm hurting.  Shoot me a message on my contact page and I'll get back right back to you.

This isn't limited to food bloggers, everyone is welcome! 
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Triple Chocolate 'Cake Mix' Cookies

I had the most terrible morning today.  I woke up in horrendous pain, my stomach feeling like it was trying to claw it's way out of my body.  After suffering for quite a while, getting sick and sweating like I was locked in a sauna for an hour it passed and I was left completely drained. I laid around like a zombie for a few hours, drifting in and out of sleep and feeling half dead.  I ate a slice of toast and had a cuppa, brushed myself off and did some baking therapy.   

I've always been curious about these 'cake mix' cookies.  They are pretty self explanatory, cake textured cookies made from a boxed cake mix.  But I have a problem ya see.  I'm a big ol' snob and I do not used boxed mixes of any kind.  What's a girl to do then?  Pretty simple, I just made my own.  Cake mix is just the dry ingredients of a cake batter right?  Yes.  But it's also full of chemicals and preservatives and god knows what else. 

For these chocolatey goodnesses all I did was throw together some flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder.  Very basic amounts, nothing special.  I added in some oil and a couple eggs to moisten it up, threw in chopped dark chocolate and Toblerone and there ya go peeps. 

Soft, cakey, gooey, awesome little slices of heaven.  They are super delicious and everyone loved them, even one lady who apparently didn't care for chocolate one bit.  That sounds like a winner to me.

Triple Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies 

1 1/2 Cups Flour
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/3 Cup Cocoa Powder
1/3 Cup Oil
2 Eggs
 Dark Chocolate, chopped
100g Toblerone bar, chopped  

Whisk together the dry ingredients, then stir in the oil and eggs until well moistened.  Stir in however much dark chocolate and Toblerone you want, reserving some to place on top of the cookies if you want to.

Preheat oven to 350F/175C.  Line a baking tray with parchment.

Roll the dough into 1 Tablespoon size balls.  Place 12 balls on a sheet, then press a few reserved pieces of chocolate into them, pressing gently.

Bake 12 - 15 minutes until cookies are set.  Cool on the baking sheet for a minute or two, then transfer to a cooking rack.

Makes 24 cookies 
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Great Failed Pesto Competition

I was so excited for the food festival, but I should have toned myself down a bit.  Sometimes I forget where I am and the minimal scale used here.  When you think of festival, it's a huge production with all kinds of interesting new things, right?  Well, this was just the normal farmers market with a few more stands and more free stuff.  

A view down the market

Blueberries in vanilla sauce, jams and saft

Beautiful apples from Hardanger

Pancakes and all the fixins

Lovely leeks

My favorite cheese guy and his awesome feta

Caramelized plums with cream and a cookie


Deep fried herring om nom nom

Don't get me wrong, it had some great food.  Unfortunately it seemed like the new stands that were there were just the same thing one after another.  Fish, fish, fish, meat, meat, meat.  I got to eat smalahove and head cheese, fried whole herring, and some pine needle chutney, all new things for me.  Overall it was pretty uninspiring, but it was a welcome change of pace around here and hey, I got quite a few free meals.

But yes, on to the important bit.  Included in this festival was a pesto making competition hosted by two representatives from Genoa, Italy where the world competition is held. 

 The winner of this competition got a trip to Genoa to compete and represent Norway.  Not too shabby! To win entry into the competition people had to enter their own pesto recipe to a local food chapter and they picked the ten best. 
 I was chosen among those ten, and I came to find out I was pretty memorable after having talked to a couple people.  Seems they liked my recipe, go me.  Anyway,  it started out by one of the guys giving a demonstration on how to make it the Genoan (don't know if thats a word, is now) way, and giving some tips and tricks.  All pretty straight forward, it's not rocket science.  I figured I would do what I do and hope for the best.  There is only so much that can happen while making pesto.  That is, only so much can happen unless you have a big bald Italian whispering suggestions in your ear as soon as they say go.  I was quite annoyed by this honestly. 

 'Don't use too much garlic, but make sure you start with that first' he was saying.  'Watch how much salt you use, just a tiny tiny bit is enough'.  And I asked him 'Do I have to do it your way, or can I make my own?' and he says 'Do what you want, but start with garlic'.  At this point I was completely thrown off and just said fuck it and went about it as I would making my own recipe.  Everything was going fine and dandy, but then the what ifs set in. 

 I started tasting after the first addition of basil, which was not at all as fresh as it should have been.  The pesto at this stage was so bland.  All it consisted of was salt, pine nuts and basil and it was just nothing. Not nearly enough salt for me.  I added a bit more and kept crushing.  I added garlic and crushed it into oblivion.  Bland.  I added cheeses and a bit of oil.  Bland.  I added salt.  Better.  Adjusted oils and cheese.  Alright.  SALT.  Much better.  I did not like it though.  The cheese was too strong and smelled like feet.  The basil was not fresh and wasn't crushing right.  I really hated the whispered suggestions.  

It must have been me though, cause obviously people made pesto good enough to win.  Maybe I just don't enjoy traditional green pesto.  Maybe Italians need to stop whispering in my ear.  I did really well though, and they talked about mine a bit.  I didn't win, but I did the best I could.  I'm happy enough just having been selected, and I really can't wait until another competition pops up cause I'm all over it and sticking to what I know and ignoring the rest.  Live and learn.

Picture time!

Looking like a dork all ready to go! They made me cover my curls with that god awful hat the bastards.

This was the moment!  Look at my face I'm like wtf dude.  I was saying 'I can just do it my way, right?'  

I don't like this basil....they heard me :P

Picking my leaves...the good ones anyway..

They were hawk eyeing me..

This is my 'this tastes like crap' face.  I was not happy.  The lady next to me wasn't either, she was practically chanting 'I added too much cheese, oh god there is too much cheese'.  Calm down woman, you're gonna place second.

Almost done..this little girl came to help her Grandma..she was so cute :)

Tasting my pesto...he's washing his mouth out 'good lord this tastes like shit'

Awaiting the results, ignorant to my fate

Getting my participation diploma.  Look at my face  I'm such a bitch.  I don't hide what I'm thinking well do I?

Applauding the winner...again the face.  I'm SO bad at hiding it.  What a bitch :P

All done and looking like a sore loser.  Never denied that one!

That's better.

It was good times, even if I did suck.  Hopefully I'll get another chance some day and remember to ignore those sneaky eye-talians.
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