Archive for January 2015

Baking Powder Biscuits

Or what every child should be taught to make!

I was in grade 7 taking Home Ec for the first time.

Our curriculum for the first half of the school year included learning how to make “tea biscuits” and muffins.

This turned out to be a very good thing. My Mom was pregnant with my brother. When I came home from school after the biscuit baking class I asked if I could make some for the family. Given the go ahead, I baked up a batch and she loved them. Thereafter, especially during that pregnancy, she often requested I make “tea biscuits”.

They are wonderfully light and yummy fresh from the oven with a bit of butter or cheese or jam or honey. They take no time at all to make and are a great addition to a “budding cook’s” repertoire.  Just think, with a bit of flour, butter, buttermilk or milk and baking powder you have  light (that’s the goal), biscuits to enjoy and show off to your friends and family.

Biscuits are a welcome little morsel with soups, salads, stews and whatever else you might want to eat them with. Delicious. A bonus of being able to create this dough are cinnamon rolls. Who doesn’t want to have a warm cinnamon roll? Another little treat to include in your repertoire are scones. You just can’t beat them with clotted cream and a bit of jam. Bet you could use mascarpone if you can’t find clotted cream!

I have, over the years collected many variations on the theme, however, the basic recipe from the Five Roses cookbook I bought in the late 60’s is the go to when I am wanting a simple biscuit. I use the buttermilk version because I think using buttermilk in baking makes things especially light & tasty. I also like to use it for my pancakes.

My sister claims she is unable to make biscuits; guess it’s time for big sister to share the secret! She says hers are like hockey pucks and so resorts to using liquid cooking oil instead of cold butter. When you use cold fat in pastry making the butter melts during the baking creating light layers of pastry. Same with biscuits.

**If you would like to make your own yummy biscuits, please go to Making Biscuits.

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How to Make Yourself Go Crazy?

Spending hours and hours sourcing countertop and backsplash products, that’s how! This coming from someone who’s a decorator and has a great eye for pattern and colour!

DSCN0583 nx2This adventure began a couple of weeks ago. Let’s go look at various porcelain tile and quartz products at a few showrooms and get in touch with a couple of suppliers I have dealt with in the past. I was determined to have a “travertine” look…which I adore but did not want natural stone. Great…no problem! We found a porcelain tile that could work but the format was way too large for our little kitchen and we would end up with funny cuts and grout lines, not only that I nixed the idea of tiles (which means grout) on the countertop. And then there was that sample made by Corian and….oops…we didn’t love it at all!

Plan B. We head out again and find a few things and get samples. Lesson one if you are going through this process, make sure you not only get the 3 x 3” samples of the quartz but much more importantly phone around and find dealers who will loan you 12 x 12” ones and the same goes for other products, the larger the sample the better. This is an exercise that I cannot stress enough. Home we come clutching our precious products. Firstly, the two quartz samples we liked so much in the 3 x 3” format, turned out to be far too dark once we put up the bigger samples. Our kitchen faces east which means colours look greyer than in other lighting situations. The third sample, very good looking, Carrera marble like, is simply too grey.

Cambria Darlington WindermereThe original plan was to have both countertops and backsplash in the same material. So far we have received two quotes. Here’s the deal and this would be a deal breaker: We have selected an over the range hood/fan and it would look amazing to install the backsplash all the way up to the ceiling behind the hood unit; an area approximately 3’ x 5”. There’s a big drawback with this amazing idea…the two quotes we have gotten so far sell the quartz by the slab and we would have to buy an entire slab to do a piece of wall 3’ x 5”! Jeez at $1,000 I’m thinking that’s almost a plane ticket! We are not into spending the vacation fund on this kitchen…in other words; Rome is calling this fall!

It’s back to the drawing board! We saw something else that could work: a quartz countertop and then 6 x 4” tiles in a coordinating colour/pattern stacked one above the other, unlike subway tiles which are staggered, for the backsplash. There are still two quartz samples leaning against existing backsplash awaiting their fate…and right now it all hinges on a few more quotes coming in as to which way we go!

Tomorrow we head out on the trail once again returning rejected samples, keeping our fingers crossed we find the “perfect” solution!

Stay tuned for the further adventures of #5’s kitchen renovation! By the way, choosing the flooring and appliances were a breeze!

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The “Beating” Goes On!

The tree has been taken to the chipper, most of the decorations have been taken down except for the twinkly lights on the windows simply because I can’t bear seeing them taken down, so up they will stay until…Valentine’s Day!  I hope everyone had a splendid holiday season!

One would have thought that with all the baking and cooking over the past month or so preparing for the holidays and entertaining guests, one would be exhausted and one would be correct! Except…

This “one” sees or reads something and thinks…hey I have all those ingredients in the house as we speak; I should make that! The inspiration for the filling came from our love of dark chocolate covered candied ginger. So, now the testing begins for my version of a “Swiss Roll”. And without further ado, here is the first “test”…comments to follow!

special ocaasionPhyllis’ “Swiss Roll”

Makes Approximately 10 Servings

For the Cake:

¾ cup unbleached flour
¾ tsp. baking powder
4 large eggs, room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
**1/3 cup Icing sugar & 2-3 Tbsp.

Make the Cake:

Spray a 15 x 10” rimmed baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Cut a piece of wax paper to fit the bottom of the pan; place onto the bottom of the pan & spray with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400F.

Sift together the flour & baking powder; set aside. Using a stand mixer or a hand-held mixer beat the eggs until foamy on fairly high speed. Gradually add the ¾ cup of sugar; continue beating until the mixture becomes thick & light in colour, about 5 minutes.

Carefully fold in the flour mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan; place in the preheated oven & bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched.

While the cake is baking take a tea towel, not terry cloth, and using a sieve, sprinkle it lightly with icing sugar, covering area where the cake will be turned out onto.

Once the cake is baked, remove from the oven, run a thin metal spatula around the edges and turn the pan upside down onto the icing sugar covered towel; gently remove the wax paper & then roll the cake up fairly tightly in the towel & cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the filling:

1 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
¼ cup berry sugar/castor sugar
¾ cup whipping cream
4-5 Tbsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger
4-5 Tbsp. finely chopped dried tart cherries
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
¼ tsp. vanilla extract

Make the Filling:

Whip the cream until very soft/floppy peaks form, gradually adding the sugar as you are whipping. Gently mix in the mascarpone & vanilla on low speed of the mixer, until just combined. Fold in the ginger, cherries & chocolate.

Once the cake is completely cooled, unroll and spread the filling over the entire cake; then gently, using the towel to help roll the cake at the beginning, roll the cake up as firmly as you can. Chill the cake until ready to serve. Cut into approximately ¾” slices and serve.

Here are the follow up comments straight fom the tasters!

Even though the first taste test of the Swiss roll was light and the filling complemented the cake well:

• The Swiss roll should be a chocolate cake which would better show off the pinwheel design of the cake when sliced.
• The non-chocolate Swiss roll is absolutely fantastic filled with the lemon filling I use for my Victoria Sponge Cake.

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