Virtual recipe box & how-to

I made a recipe index and a how-to guide index today.

The links are on the menu at the top of the blog, and also on the right.

The recipe index contains a link to each recipe I have posted, which is a condensed version of each blog post. They are sorted by dessert type; cakes, custards, et cet. Each recipe contains the ingredients and instructions, but the extra commentary and pictures have been removed so they are printer-friendly.

If you are like me and prefer step-by-step instructions, no worries! Each recipe has a link to the original blog post so you can still find that information, it’s just easier to locate now.

 

The how-to guides contain instructions for common baking dilemnas, how to make your own kitchen torches, create a water bath, or slice a cheesecake.

Over the weekend I plan to finish the rest of the guides, and if I’m feeling inspired, make something new.

(Edit: Sun Jun 19 – finished 2 more guides)

Playlist: MacGyver theme

Pride goeth before the cake

The dessert I made last night kind of imploded.  You’ll see what I mean by the end of this post. This morning as I stood in the kitchen, surveying the aftermath, and wondering “What the hell is that?”, three irritating platitudes sprang to mind:

  • you learn more from your mistakes than your successes
  • cooks can eat their mistakes
  • too many cooks spoil the broth

The über-annoying thing about platitudes (aside from how often one hears them) is when they turn out to be true. Measure twice, cut once. Ugh, spare me.

Last night I made three separate disasters.  It would probably have been a good idea to stop after the first failure, but I went for the hat trick anyway. Because I am committed. Since the post I was planning for today isn’t coming,  you’ll have to make do with my latest failures.

#1: Let them eat cake!

the incredible collapsing birthday cake ™

This beauty was Boyfriend’s birthday cake.  He loves oatmeal cake, and I had never made one before. He gave me the recipe used by his family and it seemed easy enough. Where did it all go wrong?

Probably my selection of a bundt pan for a cake with a heavy batter. Never doing that again. Ripped apart by its own weight when I removed it from the pan.  This resulted in a panicked call to Older Sister # 3, who suggested “Turn it upside down and frost like a motherfucker, he’ll never notice!” — it’s true, he didn’t.

#2: Oh fudge!

stirring…stirring…. WTF?

Hmm that certainly isn’t normal.  Never seen that before.

Tyler Durden called: “Where’d the fat go??”

I was melting chocolate on low heat to make fudge, and suddenly, this strange oily substance rose to the surface.  “Okay,” I remember thinking, “what’s up with that?  Did it seize?”

Treating it like seized chocolate failed miserably. I think the result speaks for itself. I turned off the stove and came back to observe later.  All of the fat had risen to the surface and congealed. This was a nightmare to clean.

#3: Rage on the marble slab

“Burnt cream” indeed!

This was particularly upsetting, my beautiful crème brûlée, ruined!!

Normally this lovely custard is topped with a thin layer of sugar, like a pane of rich brown glass. But this is what happens when using cane sugar that hasn’t been thoroughly dried, and too much of it.  The glass-like quality turns into a lump of burnt rock.

#4: The invisible mint sauce

mint….sauce??

On a whim I decided one night we just had to eat lamb with freshly made mint sauce, despite the fact that neither of us had ever cooked lamb before, or made mint sauce.  But that was okay, we had a bag of fresh mint picked from a friend’s garden.

I’m still not sure where I went wrong, but all the liquid evaporated, leaving soggy mint leaves (and no sauce) behind.  This was served on undercooked lamb and raw potatoes, attempts to broil Parmesan potatoes… did not work out.

#5: Pillars of the cake

coming soon to a restaurant near you, Torn Bottom Cake! ™

This was a double layer chocolate cake for my friend M. Both layers were mysteriously missing large chunks of their batter, which was stuck to the pan. That seam along the bottom right is where half of the cake ripped entirely off and got smashed back on.

Now, before baking this cake, I made sure the pans were well greased and dusted with cocoa.  I used my ninja frosting skills and filled all of the holes with buttercream frosting. Birthday Boy didn’t notice. BUT I KNEW. >.<

#6: A square of two gingerbreads

1st attempt: gingerbread top loaf!

As you can see, I did not actually use a square pan, oops. And half the loaf remained in the pan. After a few days I tried again, confident that if I used the correct pan things would go my way.

Certainly not “just like Mom’s.”

2nd attempt: it’s all over but the crumbs now

My first two gingerbreads were disasters.  Dare I try a third?

#7:  The cookies are (not) rising

peanut butter flat breads ™

molasses spice flats ™

What we have here is a failure to rise. The cookies are expanding out but not up. Despite making dough that included two leavening agents, my cookies never rose.

Boyfriend would disagree that these are disasters because they tasted good.  I believe that if it doesn’t look proper, into the disaster pile it goes.

#8: Bread on a wire

Save time on slicing, make “cracked loaf” ™

For the busy household, cracked bread saves precious minutes of the day, who has time to slice a loaf of bread anymore??

#9: So easy a child could make it

1st attempt: never do this on the stove

Confession: I’ve never made Rice Kripsy squares. Awhile ago (okay a long while ago), I picked up some marshmallows, planning to make them. And completely forgot about them until the other day.

I looked up the official Rice Kripsy square recipe, which says to use a stove top. It seemed so easy. Unaware that stale marshmallows do not react like fresh ones, I got to work.  I called up Mom to chat and tell her what I’m making.  She suggests using the microwave instead.

Too late now!!

I glance at the clock, and the sauce pan, wondering why over 25 minutes have passed but the marshmallows have not melted. At all.

Boyfriend walked in the door. “What is the amazing smell?”

I am feeling proud of myself, still unsure if the weird brown mass in the pan is normal.

He walked over to the stove.  “What the hell is that?”

I calmly explain it’s my first batch of Rice Kripsy squares, obviously!

He looked at me, puzzled.  “Why aren’t you using the microwave?”

I explain that the Kellogg’s website said to use the stove.

So he calls up his mother.  We have now consulted two mothers plus the official recipe. It’s a group effort now. There is no way this can fail.

He helps me pry the strange buttery marshmallow mass from the pan, and get started on a new batch, using a glass bowl in the microwave.  Boyfriend was kind enough to microwave and stir, microwave and stir.

I wait, wondering when the marshmallows will finally melt. Then I turn around, and see him pouring the cereal into the unmelted marshmallows.

“What are you doing!?!”

“They’re not melting, they’re just shrinking!”

“And you thought it was a good idea to add the cereal anyway?!”

2nd attempt: “There is only one Lord of the Squares, and he does not share power!”

Now I am confused, sad, and downtrodden, complaining that everything I bake turns to hell.

Boyfriend hugs me and says, “No, no, you can make stuff I can’t even pronounce and it’s delicious, we’ll get fresh marshmallows and try again.”

I am reminded why I care for Boyfriend so much after this pep talk.  Every cook needs a cheering squad.

#10: If a cake implodes in the oven, does it make a sound?

the cheesecake that wasn’t

And finally, here is the result of last night’s poll. After two failed batches of Rice Krispy squares, I was determined to make something, anything, and plus I had just asked my readers to vote in a poll and felt commited at this point.

Because I had a vision. I wanted to make an apple cheesecake, on a bed of honey graham crackers, with a layer of homemade caramel sauce and minced apple, and a cream cheese filling mixed with apple sauce and honey.

Oh, how beautiful it seemed in my head! And you know, it does taste pretty good. But from the moment I took it out of the fridge and began slicing it, two great cracks appeared, and it slid apart. In fact, it seemed liquid.

I consulted Older Sister # 2, who determined it was probably a combination of too much liquid, not enough cream cheese, and not enough cooking time. This makes sense.

This morning I showed the fallen cake to Boyfriend who (if you can believe it) laughed in my face.  He says he didn’t laugh and he doesn’t remember laughing – possibly because he hadn’t drank any coffee yet? Whatever!

I’m going to try again, and it’s going to work, and maybe, if you are really nice to me when you get home, you can have some.

Keeping those silly platitudes in mind, I have realized three important truths:

1. Eating your mistakes when they are raw is foolish.

2. When attempting to make something new that everybody in the world knows how to make but you, do it before anybody else gets home.

3. If you don’t remember when you bought the marshmallows, maybe get fresh ones.

An apple and what?

I’m making something new tonight, in about two and a half hours. I want your opinion on something.

The dessert will have two major components; apples, and either honey, vanilla, or lemons.  I can’t decide! Vote for the option you think would taste best. XD

I’ll check poll results at 10pm EST and you will see the finished product tomorrow morning.

Excuse me, I have to go harass my family into voting now…

UPDATE: 10:02pm – voting over, honey won. Tune in tomorrow!

“Down with the sickness”

Well, I am sick. Boyfriend came home from work with a nasty bug, and within two days I caught it, and this is officially a House of Misery ™.

Not much baking going on here. Currently the fanciest thing I’m making is soup from a can. Actually I’m not even doing that, just lying on the couch and sadly mumbling about tea and soup, until Boyfriend catches my subtle hints and makes it for me.

Easter dinner was a far cry from what I’m used to; grilled cheese sandwiches and canned soup. That would be horribly depressing, but luckily on Good Friday, Boyfriend and I were invited to dinner with friends at their home, and it was lovely – if I focus on Friday instead of Sunday it’s okay.

I haven’t done much this weekend, aside from playing the new Mortal Kombat game on PS3. If you enjoyed the first three MK games, do yourself a favor and buy it. Right now. It is so good, it’ll make you forget about all the mediocre games released between 1997 and 2010. Total old school goodness. This is the first MK I’ve loved in 15 years.

In fact, this MK is so good, it almost makes me forget about the pain in my throat and the ringing in my ears – almost.

I’m famous! SpatulaGoddess in a restaurant near you!

My citrus cheesecake is the featured dessert at The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse this week in Moncton!!

The restaurant is located at 751 Main Street, downtown Moncton, NB, E1C 1E5, and opens at 11am daily. If you’re in the area check it out!

I found out a few minutes ago. So cool. I love the Maritimes!

And then there was one

Despite that fact that really, I am not a morning person, I actually do enjoy mornings. Boyfriend would disagree, but I’ve never claimed to enjoy the process of waking up or getting out of bed – shudder – however there is something intangible to be found in being the only one awake, and having your home to yourself. Presently I am drinking tea and waiting for Boyfriend to wake up.

After another frustrating hunt through the kitchen it occurs to me that Boyfriend and I ought to re-organize and reduce our possessions. The kitchen is not very big, and after knocking something over for the umpteenth time I flipped out and  took a count.  I found:

  • 2 bread makers (same model)
  • 2 slow cookers (different sizes)
  • 2 toasters (one functional, one… novelty)
  • 5 cutting boards (seriously?!!)
  • 2 kettles (stove-top and electric)
  • 3 indoor grills (various sizes)
  • 3 sets of dry good canisters
  • ridiculous amount of dishes, particularly mugs and glasses
  • numerous duplicate utensils and implements
  • pots and pans up the wazoo
  • endless Tupperware

How did this happen? After the Great Tupperware Purge of August 2010 I don’t understand. Does it spawn more?

Suddenly my habit of buying a mug from new places I visit for the first time no longer seems whimsical, just poor future planning. Especially when out of all the mugs I own, the only one I use is the big green one. But say goodbye to my keepsake from Stonehenge, or the AGO, or the zoo? Never!

When we moved in together, the idea of reducing household items was loosely discussed, and I think we just went with the notion that if both people had the same thing, keep the one in best condition and donate the other.

And then the Resistance started. Neither was willing to part with our bread makers, when both were gifts from our families.

“How nice it will be to make two loaves at once!” I said. (Which we did a grand total of one time.)

“How useful it will be,” Boyfriend said, “to have my electric kettle as back up in case the stove stops working. You’d be sad without tea.”

“I can’t give up my slow cooker!” I said. “My mom gave that to me.”

“So did mine!” he said.

“My toaster actually works,” I said. “Yours has a fake hand inside it.”

“My friends gave me this! I’m not getting rid of it!” he said.

“Fine. Just don’t put it on the counter, that’s valuable kitchen real estate.”

And so it goes on. Maybe this would be a good weekend to re-watch Fight Club, and reflect on how “The things you own end up owning you.”

Untitled post is untitled

Tonight I’ll be making a cheesecake bar dessert, but in the meantime, I read a fantastic book recently; Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer.

It’s a personal account of the disastrous Mt. Everest climb of 1996. The first IMAX movie I saw was  Everest, which (unbeknownst to me) was filmed during the same time that the events of the novel occurred. I will definitely watch the film again soon.

Today I’m on the hunt for a specific item, a 10.5″ x 15.5″ baking pan deep enough to hold a 9″ x 13″ pan, for a water bath, for tonight’s dessert.

However, I sort of overslept and Boyfriend was kind enough to nag me out of bed before he left for the day, and I’m cold. Brrrr. Before venturing outside I am waiting for A) my hair to dry and B) the store to open.

I had a good weekend, finally completed the first Super Mario Galaxy with 120 stars (mad skills!), and a good friend dropped by to visit. Also made a lasagna. The only low point was accidentally updating my BlackBerry to OS 6 – I intended to update the desktop manager and back up my phone, but instead upgraded my OS, and now my RAM is almost gone. Oops.

Just the other day something wonderful happened. I became an aunt, again! Older Sister # 2 had a baby girl, named Sherbert!

Older Sisters # 1 and # 3 have gotten to visit the bebe and to my surprise, I’m very jealous. Overall I do not like children, and that includes infants, but all the same I’m really excited about my niece. I guess because she’s MY niece.

I also intend to find a super-awesome present, so as this bebe grows up I’ll retain my title of favourite aunt who gives cool presents.  Although my older sisters have the home field advantage of being geographically closer to Sherbert, I have the Big City Shopping advantage. If they think that online shopping will even the field, they couldn’t be more wrong.

I’m not competitive, not at all. Boyfriend thinks I’ve lost my mind and laughs at my recent behavior because normally, the only thing baby-related that piques my interest is Baby Smasher. So yes, I’m quite thrilled to be an aunt again!!

Current playlist: 80’s