Monday, August 30, 2010

Baked on Monday - Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich

Did you all have a nice weekend? Hope so! I'm just catching up on all your fantastic comments on my last post. It seems we have a clear winner ;)

Today I bring you Chocolate Peppermint Sandwiches. They're like a more zippy Oreo...yum. This recipe is from a vintage (is 1983 considered vintage?), book by Helen Witty. I stole this book from my sister's house the other day. Not sure when I'm going to return it.

Chocolate Peppermint Sandwiches - makes about 18 sandwiches/36 wafers

For this recipe you will need 2-3 clean, small tins to use as 'molds'. I used 3 small tomato paste tins. Cut off tops and bottoms, and make sure the edges are smooth. I then used a tiny lid from a tiny jar of vegemite to 'push' the dough through.

3 squares (3 ounces) of semi sweet baking chocolate, chopped up
6 tablespoons (3/4 of a stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, well beaten
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

 Place a small bowl over a small pot of simmering water, and melt the chocolate and 2 tablespoons of the butter. Stir constantly. Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl, using a spoon or electric mixer, cream the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and the shortening together. Beat in the sugar, then add, one ingredient at a time, the egg, water, melted chocolate, and the vanilla. Beat until well blended.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir the flour mixture thoroughly into the creamed mixture.

Use a can opener that makes a completely smooth cut, you may be able to use the one of the discs to push the dough through, depending on the type of can opener you use. If not, find a lid of a jar that fits the tin. Pack the dough firmly in the tin cans. Cover the end of each can with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for several hours, until it's very firm.

Preheat oven to 350f/180c, with oven rack in centre position.  Take one of your tin molds from the fridge, and slowly push through the tin (with tin bottom or lid) and slice off with a thin, sharp knife. I made my slices about 1/4 inch thick. I found this process thoroughly enjoyable.  I'm a baking nerd, it seems. Place each slice, on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until they are barely firm when touched lightly in the centre. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Peppermint buttercream filling:

1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sifted icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Beat butter until soft and creamy. Add sifted sugar, and beat until fluffy, then peppermint extract. I found I had to add 1 tablespoon of milk as well, as the mixture was crumbly. Icing should be thick and not runny.

Lay out half the cookies, bottom side up. Spread a generous amount of filling on each half.  Press gently to force the filling just to the edge. Start eating them right away, at this point (that's just my thought). If you must save them, let the filling set, then keep them in a covered container. They'll be fine for a few days at room temperature, or a few weeks if kept in the refrigerator. 

 At this point, you should test one to make sure it worked out. 

Yep. It did.

Back on Wednesday! Have a good day!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

French Provincial vs Canadian Olympian

It sounds strange, I know, but these are the "themes" of these two condos. I shot these spaces a couple of months ago, and they're in the current House and Home Condos issue.

These condos were part of the Millennium Water's Avenue of the Worlds project, here in Vancouver. There were many designers involved and each one was given a theme. The Cross had to do "French Provincial" and Kodu Design had to create a space that says "Canadian Olympian". I'd love to know which style you prefer, and if you think the designers hit the mark.

 The numbers used for the art piece, are marathon runner's numbers. Hockey sticks used for dining table, and coach's game plan white boards.

What's a Canadian kitchen without Kraft dinner?

The bedroom features an over head projector with sporty, Canadian images, and a wall of trophies.

Peter Wild, designer for the Cross, used Marie Antoinette as inspiration.

They couldn't be more different, so I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on these condos!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Baked on Monday - Chocolate Cupcakes with Cherry Jam

Hope you all had a fabulous weekend! The power has been off all morning, so I'm just now wrapping up Baked on Monday. Ouch.

These cupcakes were made with my fabulous assistant, Annika, who stayed over for a crafty weekend. You can really use any jam, but this morello cherry jam really tastes incredible with chocolate. Drool.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cherry Jam - makes 12

3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 350f/180c. You can either lightly grease a 12 cup muffin tin, or use cupcake papers. 

Melt butter over low heat in a small saucepan. Combine all other ingredients in a mixing bowl, then add melted butter. Beat mixture for 2-3 minutes.

Place a good spoonful of batter into each cup, then add about 1 teaspoon of jam. Fill cups with remaining batter, to cover jam. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
Cool on wire rack.  When completely cool, top with chocolate icing. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Beach balls and Kokeshi

Ahh, Merry Christmas. I've been shooting a Christmas story for the last couple of days, and was it ever hot. Nothing like shooting a roaring fire on a 29 degree day! I'll try to post a bit of a sneak peek later ;)

I've just posted some new images on etsy. I've actually just sold a set of the kokeshi for a girl's bedroom (they were 10"x10" each) and one of the beach balls prints, so I thought I should finally put them up on etsy. I'm kind of slow on these things.  I'll get it together one of these days!

I took this shot while camping at Monck Park. This image is just a sample of my hazy memories of camping there as a child. 

I have a small collection of Kokeshi and decided to shoot a few of them. They look especially happy in a bedroom or a powder room. 

Now that Christmas is wrapped up, I hope to be able to take a couple of hours to check out some of your fab blogs today. Have a lovely day!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Baked on Monday - Crumpets with blackberry butter

I'm sure most of you out there have had a crumpet, but have you experienced a home made crumpet? Let's just say these are slightly time consuming to make, require patience (maybe that's just me), and I'm happy about that. If they were less time consuming and being impatient was perfectly ok,  I'd be eating a dozen a week, with loads of blackberry butter. Having said that, they are worth the time. Oh, and I suppose they are not technically "baked", so I guess these were "Cooked On Monday".

Crumpets with blackberry butter - makes about 15 (I picked up this recipe in Australia)
You will need 3 inch by 1 inch metal biscuit rings to make crumpets.

1 1/2 cups of milk
1 1/2 tsp sugar
7g sachet of dried yeast
375g/12oz all purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Blackberry butter:

1 cup fresh blackberries
1 1/2 tblsp sugar
1 tblsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

To make crumpets: Pour milk into a saucepan and heat until just warm (no warmer as it will kill the yeast). Remove from heat and add the yeast and sugar. Let stand for about 10 minutes or until mixture starts to bubble. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, and make a well in the centre. Slowly add the milk mixture beat with electric beaters until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for about 1-1 1/2 hours or until batter doubles in size and is full of air bubbles.
Mix the baking soda with 200ml/6 1/2 oz of water, and use electric beaters to combine with the batter. Heat a heavy based frying pan over medium heat and brush with melted butter. Grease biscuit rings and place in pan. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of batter into each ring. Cook over very low heat (crucial point!) for about 5 - 10 minutes or until the surface is full of large bubbles and a skin has formed. Loosen rings and turn over to cook other side. Remove crumpets from pan and place on a wire rack, cover with a tea towel while cooking the remaining batter. Serve fresh or toasted and top with blackberry butter. Beyond delicious. Enjoy!

To make blackberry butter: Place berries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until syrupy. Remove from heat and cool completely. Place softened butter in a bowl and whip with a spoon until creamy. Fold through the blackberry mixture to create a ripple effect. Cover and refrigerate until required.

Batter should double in size and have lots of air bubbles. 

Lots of air bubbles while cooking, is a sign that things are going well ;)

Have a lovely Monday everyone!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Views of Vancouver and beyond

I Hope you're all having a creepy free Friday the 13th. Are you superstitious? I'm not, but I guess I shouldn't jinx myself, just in case.

Thought I'd share a few spots I've checked out over the last little bit - Finn Slough (above), Stanley Park and the Coal Harbour area of Vancouver. I feel like a tour guide, but I do kinda like my city. If you visit, call me, as they say ;)

Coal Harbour in Vancouver, a nice sentiment from Vinny and Alida, and some wild life in Stanley Park, Vancouver.

A little about Finn Slough:
A group of Finnish people bought this land, located in Richmond BC, in the late 1800's. Apparently, there are a few descendants that still live in Finn Slough. Very interesting story, so if you'd like to read more click here. Finn Slough is about 20 minutes from Vancouver, and worth checking out if you're in the neighbourhood. The walk ways and bridge are very rickety so watch your step!

Various images of Finn Slough including the plank that I almost fell through. 

Finn Slough. I love the caged arm chair. 

Some of the homes still standing in Finn Slough. Love them. I'd love to have one myself.

A happily used old pick up. I'm happy to see the owner "brakes for unicorns".

That's it until Baked on Monday! Hope you enjoyed the "tour". Have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Commune Cafe and a sleepy niece

My husband and I had an early morning shoot at the fabulous new cafe, Commune, located here in Vancouver. Rob (husband) and my brother David, of Evoke, designed it. We were shooting it for a design book out of Singapore. Unfortunately we forgot that our niece, Annika, had booked in for a sleepover. Hated having to haul her out of bed at 6am ;)

Tina, the incredible chef, loaded Annika up with marshmallows and hot chocolate and a nutella sandwich to start the day off. Don't tell Annika's parents. Tina also whipped up a fabulous wild shrimp sandwich for the photo shoot. Holy yum.

A sleepy niece. Photo taken by her guilty Auntie.

Eating the props.  Can't waste anything.

I love the red chairs, cork light shades, mural and the thick felt on the bench seats. If you live in the Vancouver area, or are visiting this lovely city, definitely stop by Commune Cafe. Oh, did I mention it's also licensed? 

If any of you are thinking I'm a hideous Auntie, I did take Annika to the Vancouver Aquarium to see a diver swim in a tank with some of our native sea life, after the shoot. She loved it, even though she could barely keep her eyes open.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Baked on Monday - Sweet Potato Biscuits

Did you all have a nice weekend? Hope so.

I have to confess, I baked these last Monday to take on my camping trip. They are the perfect camping biscuit as they go with everything and last for a few days. I used "yams" instead of the yellow sweet potatoes this time around, hence the vibrant colour!

Sweet Potato Biscuits - makes about 12-15

1 lb sweet potatoes or yams
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tblsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
8 tblsp unsalted butter, cold
1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400f. Wash potatoes and, using a fork, prick the potato several times. Place on baking sheet and bake for about an hour or until soft. When cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh and press through a sieve. You should have about 1 1/4 cup of puree.

Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Cut in butter until it resembles course meal. In another bowl, mix potato puree and milk, then add to dry ingredients. Mix until well combined.

Place dough on lightly floured board, knead a little, and pat out to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut out biscuits with a 2 inch round cutter. Bake on parchment paper lined baking sheet for about 20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm!

Enjoy your Monday! Back on Wednesday.