November 20, 2011 § 8 Comments
Ok, so a month later, finally a recap of my first TV appearance!
I had the most wonderful experience at Canadian Living Magazine headquarters and Citytv Breakfast Television here in Toronto on October 25th! It was a very early morning, which started at 3:45 when my alarm sounded, after which I immediately threw hot rollers in my hair, and loaded my car with carved pumpkins. Arrival and set-up was 5:30. Make-up 6:00. And my super short three minutes of fame slated at 7:53 am.
This may sound odd to you — in the spring months I had actually visualized being on Breakfast Television and carving my butternut squashes. A premonition? “The Secret” come to life? Ok, I’m not here to prove nor disprove the law of attraction. However, back in the spring, I had a moment of reflection after a couple of friends urged me to pitch my crafts to the show. I supposed if I would pitch anything in the spring, it would have to be for something six months ahead, in the fall. I thought, if I were to make my first crafting appearance on live local TV, I’ll carve squashes.
As it goes, I didn’t bother with the pitch. Who cares about a random blogger carving anything on live television? The end to a reverie.
Then the bizarre twist of fate. While I was in California last month, I received an email. The short of it: Breakfast Television. Me. Carving Pumpkins. Here’s to you, universe — in my hands are the fate of pumpkins, not squashes! Seriously, though, what are the chances that my first television appearance would be to carve some autumnal gourd as I had earlier prophesized?
More importantly, you’re probably wondering — how do I get a random email request such as this?
I could not be more thankful to Canadian Living Magazine. I guess I have been silent here and not been revealing much about the work I do outside of this blog, until the work manifests itself in public. This year, I have had the greatest creative opportunity to work on crafts projects with Canadian Living Magazine. You’ve read the posts I wrote for The Craft Blog earlier this year. But, I have also been busy designing some fun crafts for the magazine’s print issues in 2012. The process is lengthy for print publication, and crafts ideas and articles go through a gestation period of sorts for about ten months before they are born into the world. In fact, this month of November, I was busily crafting for the April and May 2012 issues. Yep, despite my lull online, I’m not totally a slacker (not entirely, though I should totally pick up the pace on this blog)!
So, on with the show! We had four segments filmed live inside the Test Kitchen (where the magazine prepares all recipes in-house). I joined the three amazingly talented women: Austen Gilliland (Senior Editor and Craft Editor), Adell Shneer (Test Kitchen Manager), and Rheanna Kish (Food Specialist), and we each did a segment on creative Halloween ideas.
Of course, seeing that this is a month late, I just went to Breakfast Television’s site and wasn’t able to find the full episode that day. However, I found our individual video clips. I have no idea how to embed non-Youtube videos, so please click on each image to link to the video:
Adell had the first segment and concocted a cauliflower “brain” with dip. You totally have to try this recipe out. It is packed with cheese and absolutely delicious!
Me and my hair and, oh right, my pumpkins went for the second segment. I really did not anticipate a third of the segment would become about my hair! I wish there was time to explain the “convertible pumpkins” which let your children design and paint the features of the pumpkin. The features can then be placed on the pumpkins for funny faces during the day and removed to make jack-o-lanterns at night
Rheanna had the third segment and she made some yummy sweet-salty-spicy zombie popcorn. I could not have enough! Sweet. Salty. Spicy. You would be remiss not to try this recipe out!
The fourth clip of Austen doing creepy crafts is not available. Boo. It’s really too bad, she made awesome paper packaging for the popcorn! On a good note, I did a search and found this clip from last winter when she shared cool crafts ideas from the book, “Create, Update, Remake”. How timely — these are fantastic projects and gifts for winter and Christmas! Enjoy!
October 2, 2011 § 7 Comments
It’s pumpkin and apple season!
I’ve noticed that when candy or chocolate apples are made to look like pumpkins, lines are piped on the surface of the apple, which happens to be quite the opposite of how pumpkins truly are. I figured, why not imitate the recessed lines of pumpkins by cutting thin slices out of the apple?
So, that’s exactly what I did to make these apples look truly like pumpkins.
Then I figured, why not make them taste like pumpkin pie?
And that’s exactly what I did. I threw in some cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger into the candy melts. And now my pumpkin candy apples taste just like pumpkin pie.
Did the apples brown at the cut edges? Not so much. They were immediately dipped in candy melts, which coated them well enough to keep from browning. Would the apples brown the next day because they’ve been cut? Hmmm, I’m not so sure. I ate almost all of them almost immediately.
I did save one for a friend, which I packaged using the technique in my recent tutorial on packaging cupcakes, cookies, and macarons, this time using a 2L pop bottle.
July 20, 2011 § 1 Comment
My cousin and I had a delicious dinner last night at Julie’s Cuban, capped with a sweet serving of tres leches. I was had at the mere mention of milk (“leche”), but three (“tres”)? My knees buckled. My head felt faint. I have had many a love affair with milk, but none with such gusto as with this dessert of cake soaked in three types of milk – evaporated *heart racing*, condensed *palms sweating*, and cream *moans*.
Not surprisingly, twenty-four hours later, here I am blogging about my very own twist on tres leches: milk-soaked cake donut holes topped with golden ripe mangoes.
Canadians are so loyal to our famous coffee/donut shop chain Tim Hortons that the term “Timbits” has become generic for all donut holes. If you are in the US, there are many Tim Hortons shops sprouting in the northern states, and many have started to swarm downtown New York. It is a must-try, if you find one in your neighborhood! For these tres leches, I used the simplest, least sweet donut holes: old-fashioned cake timbits.
It is the season for mangoes. They are plenty in the summer and are sweetest at this time. I recommend sweet Philippine mangoes. If you cannot find them, ataulfo mangoes are the second best thing. Make sure to pick the one that is most golden.
Here are the easy steps into turning your donut holes into tres leches. This is a recipe per portion:
3 cake donut holes (not yeast donuts)
1/4 c evaporated milk
1 tbsp condensed milk
1 tbsp heavy cream
1. Place donut holes in a cup or goblet.
2. Slice the donut holes through the middle to ensure they will absorb as much of the milk mixture as possible.
3. In a separate cup, combine all three milks.
4. Pour over donut holes.
5. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour. Every fifteen minutes, turn the donut holes in order that all sides are soaked evenly.
6. Top with chopped mangoes and whipped cream.
July 18, 2011 § 2 Comments
I dedicate my latest kitchen experimentation to fellow lovers of Whoppers, Maltesers, Horlicks, Ovaltine Malt, any unbranded chocolate malt balls and malt drinks, and well, everything made of malted milk. With all my love to you, I present this malted milk custard tart with Oreo crust! If I had a signature dessert, this may be it.
I have had an obsession with malted milk since childhood, specifically Horlicks. So much so that I wanted to call this “Horlicks custard tart”, however, I realize that not many people outside of Asia and Europe are aware that Horlicks exists, let alone what it is. Well, Horlicks is a malted milk drink, like Ovaltine Malt. I happen to be very familiar with both brands, but all my life, have favored the richness of Horlicks. I have seen Carnation Malt being sold at Target in the US, but I have yet to try it (I’m headed to California next week, I will make sure to pack one in my luggage home). Are you a malted milk lover? Which malted milk mix do you most prefer? And most importantly: Whoppers or Maltesers?
For the crust:
1 box of Oreos (30 cookies)
1/3 c butter
1. In a food processor, process Oreo cookies into crumbs.
2. Melt butter. Pour over cookie crumbs and combine.
3. Spoon crumbs into a 10″ pie pan and press on the bottom and sides. I used a 10″ fluted pie pan with removable bottom.
4. Bake in 350F for 10 minutes.
For the custard filling:
3 c milk
1-1/2 c malt powder*
1/2 c corn starch
6 egg yolks
3 tbsp sugar*
*Please note: the brand of malt powder alters the sweetness of the custard. I used Horlicks, which is not overly sweet. However, other brands such as Ovaltine contain more sugar and will not require any sugar to be added, as well as may require the malt powder to be reduced to as little as 1 c. Please remember that the lack of sweetness of the malt custard will be offset by the sweetness of the Oreo crust.
1. In a small bowl, whisk corn starch in 1 c of milk until dissolved.
2. In a large sauce pan whisk malt powder in remaining milk until malt powder is dissolved. Turn heat to medium and add corn starch mixture, egg yolks, and sugar. Whisk continuously until the mixture boils and thickens, approximately 20 minutes.
3. Let cool slightly before pouring custard into crust.
4. Let sit at room temperature until pie is cool. Garnish with your favorite chocolate malt balls.
5. Chill in refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
July 17, 2011 § 2 Comments
I was never an advocate of homemade ice bars until last summer, after experimenting with batches of almond muhallebi for O.T. Muhallebi is a Turkish milk pudding thickened with rice flour and topped with nuts. During one of my kitchen experiments, I coarsely ground a generous portion of vanilla roasted almonds which I combined right into my homemade milk pudding, instead of as garnish. It was nuts. Like, nutty. Like, utter nutty goodness. I was inspired to freeze the almond muhallebi mixture in a popsicle mold. Since it is a milk pudding, there is none of the crystallized ice often found in popsicles (in fact, it is the crystallized ice that always had me disappointed at homemade ice milk bars). Even though no cream is used, the result is a thick and creamy ice bar (merit goes entirely to the rice flour), packed with bits of soft crunch and a wallop of nuttiness
I left my popsicle mold in California with O.T. and regret not picking up an extra set for my use here in Toronto. I have scoured so many dollar stores and home stores in Toronto in search of a bar-shaped popsicle mold, to no avail. If you are in the west coast, you can find popsicle bar molds at Daiso for $1.50. I finally found this pretty one for $2.99 at Meijer in Michigan when I visited my parents for the 4th of July weekend. And impressively, they perfectly match the milk/juice carton basket weave vases that I crafted in April.
Sadly, I have not been able to find vanilla roasted almonds since last summer. But there is a new kid in town — cocoa roast almonds. I am a vanilla type of gal, however these bad boys have won me over.
To make these creamy, nutty ice bars, you will need:
2 c milk
3 tbsp rice flour
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 c cocoa roasted almonds
1. In a food processor, process the almonds to a coarse grind.
2. In a sauce pan, whisk together milk, rice flour, and sugar over medium heat. Whisk continuously until the mixture boils and thickens, approximately 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Whisk in ground almonds.
4. Let cool for five minutes and spoon into popsicle molds. Freeze overnight.
You may substitute the rice flour with all purpose flour if you do not want the hint of rice milk flavor in your popsicles, as the rice flour will leave that. I enjoy rice milk and, like the Turks, I come from a culture that makes a majority of desserts with rice flour. All purpose flour does the trick of thickening without any added flavor. Next time, I will try it with some almond milk.
June 29, 2011 § 1 Comment
In two days, Canada will celebrate its 144th birthday. I whipped up a quick hands-on Canadian treat in honor of our holiday. This is a fun cooking and crafting project for you and your little ones to enjoy — miniature inuksuks constructed out of homemade maple caramels.
In the west and Arctic regions of Canada, inuksuks stand aplenty. You may have seen them before. They are native manmade stone structures mostly used as markers for travel or for orientation.
You may probably know this: in Canada, we are mad about maple. On our flag we bear the emblematic maple leaf. In most urban places, you cannot pass a kilometer’s stretch of road without spotting the maple leaf somehow, typically adorning shop signs and windows. Even our hockey team in Toronto is aptly named the Maple Leafs. Without surprise, we are the globe’s biggest producer of sweet maple syrup, on whose sole existence the pancake depends.
These delicious caramels are made of pure maple syrup and are very simple to make — no need to invest in a candy thermometer. They’re that simple! I used salted butter for that salted caramel flavor, and evaporated milk for that maple fudge taste (I’ve seen the best maple fudge stores flaunting cans of Carnation).
To make these caramels, you will need:
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 tbsp salted butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1. Over medium heat, melt butter in maple syrup. Allow to boil for five minutes.
2. Add evaporated milk. Stir continuously and allow to boil further for fifteen to twenty minutes until the mixture is slightly thickened and turns a deep golden amber. The lighter amber has a soft chew. The darker amber turns into a hard caramel candy. The choice is up to you!
3. On parchment, very quickly spoon small pebble mounds of caramel and some long, narrow ledge shapes.
4. Allow caramels to sit until they are cool to touch, but warm enough that they will stick to each other as you construct. Stack the caramels to create inukshuks.
You will notice the taller inuksuk has slightly lighter caramels. Those caramels are chewy and have some slack when constructed. The shorter inuksuk has darker caramels, and are hard candies, and perhaps stand better as inukshuks. Both are equally yummy!