The Newbie Cook
- 19,839 forkfuls since 16.Oct.10
Making everything for the first time
We had a surplus of fruits in the house and I didn’t think that I could eat everything within two days. I initially wanted to make a rerun of the plum cake since my first effort crashed and burned so spectacularly. But we didn’t just have plums, we also had gobs of blueberries.
So what can I make that would accommodate a variety of fruits? Hmmm… cobbler?
What’s ironic is that I’ve never eaten cobbler before so I cannot compare my end product to others. I have to rely solely on taste and the opinions of those who eat it. I’ve also heard of peach blueberry cobbler but I don’t remember seeing a recipe with plums in it. But since this blog is all about experimentation, then why not try?
I did the cardinal sin of tweaking a recipe of a dish that I’ve never made before, which is why I was quite anxious while it was in the oven. What if it turns out badly? Then I would have wasted a boatload of fruits. This is the last thing I want to do since my mom made sure that we would be forever cautious of wasting food considering all the starving children in third world countries.
Luckily, it seems to have turned out well. Just according to my taste, I think I’ve done a pretty good job for a maiden effort. 🙂 Can it be improved? Probably. I want to make it healthier and experiment with wheat flour, maybe use other fruits. But for now, I’m quite pleased with the results.
Happy Valentines Day, everyone!
Who can resist a warm, fruity snack in the middle of winter? No one. Besides, I need to do something with the blueberries sitting in the fridge since I’ve been dreaming about them for the past two nights.
I didn’t want to bake a huge cake since my husband isn’t really an eater. (Tip for brides-to-be: grill your fiances about their eating habits because there is nothing more horrible than having a husband who eats less than you do.)
I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen and tweaked a few things like adding a bit more zest and loads and loads of butter. This cake is so buttery that it’s useless to stress about calories. Just remember that everything is good in moderation and that we all need to spoil ourselves once in a while. 🙂
It’s also very easy to make and doesn’t take long to prep and bake. I usually like this with my afternoon coffee or tea but it’s also good for breakfast if you want to deviate from your usual muffin or pancakes. Hey, they do say that it’s healthier to eat most of your carbs in the morning for an early pop of energy plus you’ll have the whole day to burn it.
I was craving for French toast for days. And I had to do something with the two packs of fresh strawberries C and I bought a few days ago. And I figured he could use a little cheering up.
I made the honey-wheat bread myself using Danielle’s recipe. I haven’t perfected it yet so that will be a whole post of its own sometime in the near future when I feel more confident and have photographic evidence. 😛 I’m sure most of us already have our own recipes for French toast but I added mine here for those who do not.
This is quite heavy so we had this for brunch and skipped lunch altogether. Have fun with your own stay-at-home date!
Here’s my husband’s deconstructed toast:
Note (May 25, 2012): I recently made this as a cake with blackberries instead of red currants. Coat blackberries with 2 tablespoons sugar and spread evenly at the bottom of the pan. Spoon cake batter over it and bake. A lot of people have trouble turning an upside down cake without the middle sticking on the pan. Use wax paper or foil to cover the bottom of the pan so when you flip it over, the whole cake comes out foil and all. If the berries stick to the foil, stick the cake in the freezer for 30 minutes before peeling it off.
Almost a year ago, I had a love affair with muffins. Obsession is probably the proper way to describe it. I wanted to learn how to bake (aside from the token brownies and chocolate cake) by baking as many kinds of muffins as I could find. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a lot of pictures and those that I managed to take were poorly focused and had horrible exposure.
I had the chance to make these muffins again for my friends last weekend. Breakfast should always be the biggest meal of the day and we sure had a huge meal with varied dishes. My contribution was a batch of lemon and red currant muffins.
You can be creative with this muffin and use all sorts of berries. SK’s original recipe uses raspberries. I used red currant here. In hindsight, I think the red currants should have been coated with a tad of sugar since they’re really sour. The first time I made this muffin, it had a cherry centre and I topped it with sliced almonds. I think I like the latter version better. Here’s a photo of it, taken just before I brought them to work for my colleagues:
It’s not great, but I used to be really bad with photography and used the “Auto” setting far too often. *wince* These days, I learned how to adjust my dSLR properly to take the type of photos I want. I still have a long way to go, especially when it comes to composition, but I’ll get there eventually.
Note: The lovely topmost photo was taken by my friend, Jovett, just before we ate them.
I can’t believe it’s been six weeks since I posted. It must be my lazy gene at work. I’ve tried a lot of new recipes since the last post but, being Ms. Forgetful, didn’t always have my camera with me so I was only able to document a few. And one of those precious few is the apple cinnamon cake. 🙂
It’s Smitten Kitchen’s mom’s apple cake. But I added a lot of cinnamon and lessened the sugar to suit my taste. I also used yellowish-red gala apples because by the time I realized that there were small green apples that’s probably excellent for baking, I already had the gala apples weighed and priced. Another example of the lazy gene at work.
I left the apples unpeeled so I just washed them thoroughly. My aunts always told me that the nutrients are close to the peeling. And it tastes sweeter the way it is.
Instead of sifting the dry ingredients, which would take forever and a day, I used a whisk to mix them all together. I got that tip from Serious Eats. Besides, I don’t have a sifter. 😉
One creates four layers: dough, apples, dough, then apples. Please use a tube pan for this cake, just like Smitten Kitchen did. It’s actually the second time for me to make this and I used a regular square pan the first time when I made it for my girlfriends. It took a long time to bake and, even when the sides were already crunchy, the center was still uncooked. It was then that the usefulness of a tube pan dawned on me.
It hasn’t even been baked but it already looks beautiful. I did use too many apples for my cake. I also had a smallish tube pan and the dough ran over as it was baking. Put a baking tray under the pan like I did to prevent messing up your oven. (Chewing on the crunchy, fallen bits was also fun.)
I brought this cake home to Apartment #1 where my parents and siblings are currently staying. The kids liked it, so did the adults. I set aside a few slices to bring to work before The Terminator (aka Jiko, the younger brother) finishes everything. Luckily, Tita Edith and Layali both liked it. I guess this is one cake that I am going to make again.
Be careful with slicing and serving because the cake can get crumbly. It’s also a bit heavy for dessert and is probably more suited as a snack with your favorite coffee or tea.
It’s Valentines Day. Or at least it was 48 minutes ago. But that’s not the only reason I tried this strawberry milk cake recipe from The Kitchn. The photos made it look so scrumptious that I’ve been obsessing about it for days and I figured that’s a valid enough reason to bake it. 🙂
I don’t usually buy strawberry milk unless either sibling – Jiko or Sofia – is around since they’re the only ones who like the artificial strawberry flavor. But I’m willing to put my doubts aside for the sake of experimentation.
The recipe is ridiculously easy. I made the cake itself in between breaks from watching The King’s Speech.
But I made a boo-boo with the frosting. Instead of using heavy whipped cream, I used heavy plain cream. The recipe didn’t specify but I should have known better. 😦 Still, the “frosting” made a very nice pale pink ganache.
I wasn’t able to bring Valentine goodies yesterday so I’m taking this to work tomorrow. I made two of these heart-shaped cakes. I’m sure Tita E would love to have this with her morning coffee.
I’m going to make this cake again for our all-girl get-together next week. But with whipped cream this time!
Friday night’s dinner had to be simple and quick. But “quick” and “simple” doesn’t have to mean taking the instant ramen out and having to tolerate the MSG overload. Or frying another pack of hotdogs and eating it with rice. So Dad took out the white fish fillet, sliced it, and fried it.
I borrowed the homemade teriyaki sauce recipe from Steamy Kitchen but changed it a little. Teriyaki sauce is supposed to be made of equal amounts of white cooking wine, soy sauce and sugar. I didn’t have the wine, thought it required too much soy sauce and would prefer to have less sugar.
The best part is the avocado dessert. Luckily, the avocados I bought last weekend had ripened and were just right for eating. Yum yum! Recipe for those in a hurry after the jump.
I haven’t posted here in ages not because I no longer want to cook but because I just came from vacation, got busy, experimented with a few duds that weren’t worth posting and because Dad started to get creative in the kitchen again and OF COURSE I have to eat what he cooks, which are mostly great but I can’t post them in my blog, right? *takes deep breath* Unless he guest-blogs.
Anyhoo, I kept a bunch of interesting recipes from Serious Eats that I wanted to try out. My co-worker, Tita E, picked the Chicken with Lemon recipe out of a pile and we started talking about how wonderful the chicken with lemon or orange dishes are from Chinese restaurants.
And that brought me back to the kitchen, chopping shallots and (just like the Nick from SE) wondering whether this simple recipe would yield the first blogworthy dish I cooked this year. When I was just starting to learn how to cook, one of the first recipes I tried was chicken with orange, coriander and ginger. Just the name sounded so horribly complicated to a kitchen noob and the process wasn’t that easy either. But I made that dish several times after the first try because it was just so addictive. (And it was one of the things I could do well, heehee.)
For the lemon chicken, I added a few very minor ingredients like ground coriander seeds and cilantro but stayed mostly faithful to the recipe. It looked good but the real test would come after the bite.
My eyes teared up a bit. It was definitely the lemoniest lemon chicken I have ever eaten. Beat that Peking! This so beats eating out! And now that I’m done ranting, here’s the recipe.
As with the previous post, this was made and photographed during the night when my “good” camera was out of commission. But no matter how great the camera, I was reassured that most cranberry upside-down cakes really look awful on pictures so I suppose my cellphone cam could only ruin visuals so far.
I had about a cup and a half of cranberry that I was saving. I didn’t know what to do with them and considered making muffins. But since me and my friends decided to have dinner, I thought about using them for an upside down cake.
I considered using a chiffon cake for the base or perhaps a sturdier mocha. But when my friend Jovett told me that she had 3 extremely ripe bananas in her apartment – so ripe that they looked a little sorry and ignored – I finally had the answer. Why not a classic banana cake?
For this cake, I used two of Deb’s recipes and combined them (I really should use other sources but SK is such a wonderful reference for baking). I was afraid of how it would turn out since I’m not really sure about mixing cranberry and banana flavors. The cake turned out to be a hit and I was asked to bake the same thing for a bridal shower the week after.
Tip: A lot of people have trouble turning an upside down cake without the middle sticking on the pan. Use wax paper or foil to cover the bottom of the pan so when you flip it over, the whole cake comes out foil and all. If the berries stick to the foil, stick the cake in the freezer for 30 minutes before peeling it off.
My friend, Kim, a first-time baker who wants to learn how to cook, joined me last Wednesday in Apartment #2’s kitchen. We chose to make caramel apple bread instead of the originally-planned pumpkin cinnamon rolls because I forgot to buy any pumpkins. Donna Currie has a lip-smacking recipe in SE’s Bread Baking and it didn’t look too complicated (er… hopefully).
We made a few minor mistakes like peeling and grating the apples before they were supposed to be mixed into the dough, which made them turn brown very fast. The biggest mistake was putting twice the amount of apples into the dough. By the time we realized that half was supposed to go into the filling it was too late. My bad! It was me who was reading the recipe. *headesks*
Me: Um, Kim… @_@ I think half of that was supposed to go into the filling.
Kim: Oh no! ^o^
Me: No wonder it’s so wet.
The wet dough refused to rise. It was just my third try at making bread so I didn’t yet understand the physics between yeast and dough yet so we wasted a lot of fruitless hours waiting for it to rise. In the end, we just added a lot of flour. We even called a friend (Jovett) and asked for more flour.
We didn’t have a fancy stand mixer so we kneaded it pioneer woman style: with our (very clean) hands. By this time, we had enough dough for 3 loaves of bread so I made extra filling. As usual, we had to use a substitute for an ingredient. In this case, we couldn’t find dulce de leche so we used commercial condensed milk instead.
To kill time while the dough was rising, we watched movies in Jovett’s apartment. We might as well since we already stole her flour and some of her apples. But we were nice and helped her cook dinner. 🙂
Kim was afraid that the bread would be a total failure. But after an hour of baking, I took the bread out of the oven, ran back to Jovett’s apartment with one loaf and two oven mitts (ignoring weird looks from the girls at the poolside) and sat down to have a late but very filling dinner with the girls.
It was certainly a nice, quiet night. And, yes, the bread turned out very well. The 6 hours of kneading, waiting, mixing, more waiting and more kneading did pay off! We even had enough to bring to Kim’s mom and my dad.