Friday, April 10, 2009

: easter egg hunt :

We all know that Easter is all about chocolate, eggs, and chocolate eggs. So I decided to make a chocolate cake pop egg to celebrate the holidays.


I made the eggs using the cake pop method with some leftover chocolate cake I had in the freezer. I even hid a little surprise in each of my egg-shaped pops... keep reading to find out what!

I melted some white chocolate slabs using a double boiler, and attempted to dip half of each egg and then let dry before I dipped the other half. I quickly realised this method was not ideal. The white chocolate was too thick and was leaving blobs on my eggs.

This was not going to work out.

I decided the try doing a pour-over method instead, thinning out the white chocolate with shortening. I placed my eggs on a rack over a tray and poured the white chocolate mixture over it, making sure all sides of the eggs were covered.

This yielded a much better result. So much so infact, that one has to wonder...

Is this an egg? Or an egg?

And when you bite into it....

There's even a yolk! (Made with yellow cake mixed with frosting).

I actually first tried to make this using a sponge cake I had in the freezer, but the cake was too yellow and although I dyed the yolk part with yellow food colouring, there wasn't much differentiation.

For a more "authentic" cakey-hard-boiled egg, try it with a white cake (but remove the top/bottom/side which will brown during baking), and then dye the yolk bit yellow.

Happy Easter!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

: roasted beet risotto :

There's something really glamorous about risotto that I just can't quite grasp. Maybe it's the fact that it's so labour intensive to make. Maybe it's that it just tastes so decadent.

Well, whatever the reason, I decided I wanted to try and make a beet risotto as I had some leftover in the fridge I wanted to use up. I recently visited the St. Lawrence Farmer's Market where I had bought some farm-fresh veggies:

I thought that by roasting the beets, the sweetness that resulted would meld really well will the savoury saltiness of parmesan cheese... mmmm...

To roast the beets, I sliced them up (approx. 1/2 inch) and placed them on a baking tray with some olive oil and roasted them in a 400F oven.

About 15 minutes later, I flipped the beets over so they would cook evenly on both sides. About another 15 minutes later, I took them out of the oven and let them cool.

Then I used a fun cookie cutter and cut some of the beets into flower shapes for decoration. I finely diced up the rest of the beets to add to the risotto.

When you add the chopped beets to the risotto, it will turn the most fabulous shocking magenta colour!

The resulting dish looked gorgeous and was soooo delicious.

Roasted Beet Risotto (makes 6 servings)

10 Small beets, roasted (approx. 1.5 cups small dice)
Olive oil
1 small Onion, finely diced
3 Garlic cloves, minced
4-5 sprigs of Thyme
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup Red wine (I used Chianti since that's what I had lying around)
7 cups low-sodium Chicken stock (or you could use half regular stock, half water)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper (for seasoning)

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Peel beets and slice into 1/2 inch slices. Place slices on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, making sure beets are coated on both sides. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes.
2. After 15 minutes, flip beets over and let roast for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. When cool to the touch, chop beets into small dice (brunoise), or you can cut them into fun shapes. Set aside.
3. Place a large saucepan/pot to medium heat and add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add onion and saute until translucent.
4. Add garlic and thyme sprigs and saute until fragrant. (As a note, I don't bother pulling the leaves off the thyme as by the end up this, all the leaves will fall off the stems anyway).
5. Add the arborio rice and stir until all the grains are coated.
6. Add the red wine and stir until wine is absorbed into the rice. The rice will turn a very unattractive cloudy grey-ish colour... but not to worry! This is only temporary :)
7. Add chicken stock, 1/2 cup at a time and consistently stir until rice has absorbed each batch of liquid. Towards the 7th cup of liquid, the rice will start to get a little creamy as it releases its starches. Depending on how you like your risotto (al dente), you can add a little bit less liquid. Just have a taste and see what tickles your fancy.
8. When all liquid has been absorbed, turn off the heat, and IMPORTANT: pull out all thyme stems!!! Nobody wants to eat a stem.
9. Add grated parmesan cheese and diced beets and stir through until thoroughly combined.
9. Season as you wish with salt and pepper, and serve!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

: braised pork, tofu and eggplant :

My roommate is a picky eater. So, I take it upon myself to cook foods she claims not to like and try to force her to enjoy it :) But in all seriousness, I think most people claim not to like certain foods because they've only tried it cooked in certain ways. In this dish, I've taken two of my roommate's least favourite ingredients, tofu and eggplants (which taste relatively bland by itself), and braised it with pork in a delicious spicy and savoury sauce. The good thing about tofu and eggplants is that they're like sponges, so they suck up all the saucy goodness, turning them from flat to flavourful! Needless to say, this dish is now a favourite in the house.

Braised Pork, Tofu and Eggplant (serves 6)

1 T vegetable oil
1 lb lean ground pork
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 package (425g) regular/medium tofu, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken stock
3 T oyster sauce
1 T dark soy sauce
2 T chili garlic sauce (or more/less depending on how much you like spice!)
1 T cornstarch
1 green onion, sliced thin
Pinch of white pepper


1. Add oil to hot wok (or pot/saucepan) and fry garlic and ground pork until just cooked through.
2. Add eggplant, chicken stock, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and chili garlic sauce and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to medium, cover and let braise for 7-10 minutes or until eggplant is tender.
3. Add tofu and mix around to make sure the tofu gets all saucy.
4. Simmer for another 15 minutes on medium heat for the tofu to absorb the sauce.
5. Mix cornstarch with a bit of cold water and add to mixture to thicken the sauce.
6. Add white pepper and sliced green onions at the last minute.
7. Serve with rice!