Easy and quick Dutch Baby





It is only December 29th but time to move past the Christmas baking. Lots of cookies and cakes were baked over the holiday season. I don't have any special recipe for New Year's desserts but chocolate is always good when the weather is cold. Chocolate is a lot easier to handle when the weather is cool.

My recipe for today is a Dutch Baby. I am probably one of the last ones to know about this dish but happy I finally found it. A TV show in Japan was demonstrating recipes from the TV show Chicago Fire and the Dutch Baby was the recipe demonstrated. I grew up using cast iron skillets and I have bad memories about washing them so that is why I don't have one in my house now. Anyway, after seeing the explanation about the Dutch Baby I decided it was time to reacquaint myself with iron skillets.

Basically, the Dutch Baby has a popover like bottom and then topped with your favorite fruit or other filling.

Basic Recipe for a small 15 cm iron skillet
(15 minutes prep time and 15 minutes for baking)
Serves 2 - 3

30 grams all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 egg
50 grams milk

Approximately 1 teaspoon butter for coating the pan

1. In a bowl, sift together the flour and sugar then add the egg and mix with a small whisk.
2. Lastly, add in the milk in about 3 portions and mix with the whisk. Just stir enough to combine everything.
3. Preheat the over to 200 degrees Celsius then place the iron skillet in the oven for 10 minutes to warm up. When heated, add the butter and swirl it around the pan to coat it entirely.
4. Pour the batter into the pan and put back into the oven and back for about 15 - 18 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and fill with your favorite filling. There is a lot of air in the Dutch Baby when it is baked so after removing it will deflate like a souffle.

For my Dutch Baby filling, I lightly sauteed an apple that was peeled & sliced  in a fry pan with about 3 tablespoons sugar and a few dashes cinnamon.

My recommendation is to serve it warm just out of the oven. Always be careful to handle the skillet since it very hot.
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Christmas Dark Chocolate Cookies




Christmas and cookies, the two just go together. It is hard for me to decide my favorite cookie, however, at Christmas I really love anything that tastes like gingerbread. Even though these cookies aren't gingerbread, they are a close second. Not only do they taste delicious but they look so darn delicious as well. The white sugar powder looks like chocolate buried in fresh snow.

I know you are eager to get baking so let's skip the story and get right to baking. Preparation time for these cookies is only about 30 minutes - just add a little more time for the dough to chill in the refrigerator and then they will be ready for a quick bake.  Happy Baking & Merry Christmas to you and you and your family.

Ingredients

200 grams flour
40 grams cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2  teaspoon baking soda
1/2  teaspoon salt
130 grams sugar
3 eggs
4 teaspoons instant coffee (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla
115 grams sweet dark chocolate
60 grams room temperature butter
For coating cookies: one small bowl filled with granular sugar and another small bowl filled with powdered sugar

Preparation 
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and other dry ingredients.
  2. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, instant coffee and vanilla using a small whisk.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering hot water. After melting, remove from the heat and add in the butter in pieces and mix with a whisk.
  4. Add the melted chocolate to #2 in portions using a small whisk. Next, add the flour mixture.
  5. Cover and put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or until the mixture becomes firm.
  6. Remove from the refrigerator and use a teaspoon to scoop a small amount of dough and roll into a ball. Roll each ball in granular sugar and then the powdered sugar before placing on the baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 170° C for 15 – 18 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet to cool before serving.
If you like this recipe, then there are plenty more sweets in my Christmas cookbook. The book is available in both 日本語 and English. 




Amazon Japan



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Christmas Gingerbread House



It's that time of the year again -- Christmas. I make a gingerbread house each year since I love the decoration for the house and it fills the kitchen with wonderful smells.

The basics of a good house is gingerbread which won't become weak and icing which is solid. Think of the icing as cement for the house. I always add a little powdered egg white or Wilton's Meringue Powder when making the icing. I am not a full time cookie decorator so I always struggle with decoration. I know some basic techniques from the Wilton classes so I  keep my house decoration fairly basic.

My Gingerbread House book sold on Amazon Japan (日本語) and Amazon US (日本語) and provides detailed instructions on how to make the house and recipes for both the gingerbread and the icing. There are also a few other Christmas dessert recipes for cookies and other holiday desserts.

Grab a few family members or friends and take time in December to enjoy a delicious and fun baking get together.

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Autumn Apple Tart



Light and delicious apple tart

Fall is just about my favorite season and apple pies are just about my favorite dessert. Recently I discovered Bramley apples which are sold by a farm in Nagano prefecture. These apples are tart and crispy just like a Granny Smith.  Bramley apples are originally from England and were introduced in Japan about 20 years ago. One of my friends in Tokyo, Stacey,  runs a great bake shop and  school called Mornington Crescent. Her British desserts are delicious and if there is ever an opening book one of her classes.

This is a light tart with a thin crust, covered in a layer of almond cream then topped with sliced apples.  Total time for putting everything together (excluding baking time) is about 30 minutes.

This is a short project to enjoy fall baking so grab the apples, flour and some butter and time to get to work.

Fits a 24 cm tart pan (serves 8)

Dough
200 grams flour
100 grams butter cut into cubes (cold)
1 egg
5 grams salt
10 grams sugar

1. In a food processor, pulse together the butter and flour. Then add the salt and sugar. Lastly, add the egg.  Put the ingredients on a board and gently knead everything together so the dough is smooth. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about 40 minutes before using. 

Almond Cream
50 grams butter room temperature
50 grams powdered sugar
50 grams almond flour
1 egg
5 grams flour

1. In a bowl, mix the butter with the powdered sugar with a small whisk. Gradually add in the almond flour and flour in portions. Lastly, add the egg and mix thoroughly with a whisk.

Apples
2 - 3 large crispy apples
1. Peel and thinly slice the apples

Putting everything together
1. Roll out the dough to fit the tart pan and cut off any extra around the edges.
2. Spread the almond cream on top of the dough then place the apples around the tart pan in a nice circular design. You can put the inside circle of apples in the opposite direction for a more creative look.
3. Before baking, sprinkle sugar on top of the apples.
4. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 35 - 40 minutes. After removing from the oven you can brush with apricot jam for a nice shine.






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Decadent Chocolate Christmas Cake




In Japan everyone loves Christmas cakes with BIG decoration. Fresh fruits, whipped cream, chocolate and other decorations are usually used for these special cakes. Gingerbread and fruit cakes are not so popular in Japan at Christmas.

For some early Christmas practice, I baked a chocolate cake and decorated with cream cheese icing and chocolate topping. The chocolate is tricky to get the right temperature so that it drizzles down the cake with the right mouth watering look. The cake was a little cool so the chocolate cooled down as soon as it hit the icing which slowed down the chocolate flow.

The cake is a basic chocolate cake recipe which is easy to put rather together quickly. The cream cheese icing is also quite fast to make, however, if you aren't familiar with icing a cake that can be challenging. A palette knife can make the job of icing much easier. The chocolate has a small amount of gelatin so that it stays firm.

Chocolate Cake

200 grams sugar
200 grams flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100 grams butter
180 grams sweet chocolate (chopped)

1. In a bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. In a separate bowl, measure the butter and melt over a saucepan filled with hot water.
2. In another bowl, put the chocolate over a saucepan of hot simmering water and melt.
3. In a large bowl, whip the eggs with a hand mixer and gradually add the sugar. Mix on medium speed until the batter is a light yellow color and slightly thickened. This may take a few minutes but don't skip this step.
4. After the batter is well mixed, add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until well mixed. Next add the melted butter in portions and mix on low speed.
5. Lastly, add the chocolate in portions and mix with a spatula.
6. Prepare 2 round baking pans (20 cm round) and lightly butter and flour each of them.
7. Pour the batter evenly between both pans and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for about 40 minutes. Check if done by using a toothpick.
8. When finished baking, cool thoroughly.

Cream Cheese Icing
200 grams cream cheese (room temperature)
40 grams butter (room temperature)
125 grams powdered sugar

1. In a large bowl, mix the butter and powdered sugar with a hand mixer on low until well mixed. Then gradually add the cream cheese in pieces and continue to mix.
2. You can add some flavoring to complement the chocolate like vanilla.

Chocolate Topping
40 grams water
40 grams milk
45 grams sugar
25 grams cocoa powder
2 grams gelatin (softened)

1. Heat the water, milk, sugar and cocoa powder in a saucepan until just lightly boiling. Turn off the heat and add the gelatin. Pour into a bowl to cool. The chocolate should be a little thickened to when pouring on the cake.

Putting everything together
1. Put the bottom piece of the cake on a plate cut the top so that it is flat. Spread some icing on the top add a little strawberry jam on top of the icing (don't spread the jam to the end of the cake though).
2. Place the second piece of cake on top and then spread the remaining icing on the cake using a palette knife. Recommendation is to icing the cake once with about half of the icing and then place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator and use the rest of the icing to icing the cake.
3. Starting from the center of the cake, start pouring the chocolate and use a spoon to distribute it evenly on top of the cake and so that it gradually starts to drip down the sides.
4. Decorate the cake with fresh cream and fruit as you like.



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Delicious White Chocolate Mousse with Pumpkin Gelatin



I found two great combinations - white chocolate and pumpkin. This is a bit of a nontraditional dessert for Halloween but it is always good to update the recipe box. The white chocolate is made into a mousse and combined with a soft pumpkin flavored cake and delicious pumpkin flavored gelatin.

This cake has several steps to it but don't despair since the end result is well worth it. If you are looking for short cuts you can also buy the cake that sits on the bottom.

Let's get to it. Put on some good music and set aside a couple of hours for this one.

This recipe is enough for a 18 cm x 6 cm baking ring

Spice Cake 
130 grams butter (room temperature)
2 eggs
120 grams sugar
150 grams pumpkin puree
240 grams flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
50 grams milk

50 grams Nutella (will be used when putting everything together at the end)

1.       In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt & spices.
2.       In another bowl, mix the butter and sugar with a hand mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs in portions and  continue to mix. Lastly, add the vanilla.
3.       In portions, add the flour to the egg mixture and continue to mix with the hand mixer on low speed. Lastly add the pumpkin then the milk.
4.      Fill the bottom of the baking ring and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 20 – 25 minutes.


Pumpkin Gelatin

100 grams pumpkin puree
30 grams milk
1 egg yolk
30 grams sugar
6 grams gelatin (softened in water)
50 grams fresh cream

1.       In a bowl, mix the egg yolk and sugar together. In a saucepan, heat the milk until lightly boiling then add to the egg yolk mixture and mix. Add back to the saucepan and heat until lightly thickened - do not boil. Turn off the heat and add the gelatin. Pour into a bowl and cool.
2.    Whip the fresh cream with a whisk then add to the pumpkin mixture.
3.    Prepare a small ring (about 15 cm) by placing plastic wrap at one end of the ring and secure with a rubber band. Pour the pumpkin into the ring and place into the refrigerator until firm.
4. Keep out a little extra to spread out on the top of the cake.

White Chocolate Mousse

2 egg yolks
30 grams sugar
150 grams milk
80 grams white chocolate (melted over hot water)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 grams gelatin sheets (softened in water)
150 grams fresh cream

1.       In a bowl, mix the egg yolk, vanilla extract and sugar together. In a saucepan, heat the milk then add to the egg yolk mixture and mix. Add back to the saucepan and heat until lightly thickened - do not boil. Turn off the heat and add the gelatin. Pour into a bowl and cool.
2.       Add the milk mixture to the chocolate mixture in portions and mix with a small whisk. Note, both the chocolate and milk mixture should be about the same temperature, about 38 degrees Celsius.
3.       Whip the fresh cream until soft peaks form. Add the chocolate mixture to the fresh cream in portions with a spatula. Put this bowl over ice water while mixing. Mix until it is just lightly thickened and then take off the ice water.

Putting everything together:

1.       Line the ring with mousse film then cut the cake to fit at the bottom of the ring and then cover with Nutella. Pour about 1/3 of the mousse into the ring over the cake then place the pumpkin mousse on top. Pour the remaining mousse into the ring until about 98% full. Put into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to start to firm up.

2.       Pour the remaining pumpkin gelatin on top and spread evenly with a palette knife. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before removing the cake from the ring for serving.


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Halloween Sweets




Is it autumn yet?  It's almost mid-September and the weather is still too warm.  At least the sweltering temperatures of August have cooled down but I am still looking forward to much cooler temps.

The stores already have Halloween decorations and I found a few new ones to buy this year so I included them in the photos -- BOO! Also, I wanted to have Indian corn for decoration for the holidays but since I am living in Japan these are very difficult to find. One of my friends spotted them at a Tokyo Farmer's Market and they must be about the only ones in the Tokyo area. Could have kissed that farmer when I spotted them.



Full disclosure, I did not bake the roll cake in the photo. Since I was collecting all of the beautiful fall pumpkins, Indian corn and apples I just wanted to grab my camera and start shooting without the baking part. Also, it's still too warm to start using the oven. In Japan the most popular taste for cakes is chestnut. All types of cakes and cookies with chestnut filling are popular. Pumpkin is not very popular for desserts so I will need to bake my own pumpkin spice cake.  Also, if you visit Starbucks in Japan you won't find a pumpkin spice latte.



I may be a  little too early for Halloween but I wanted to get this fall feeling started. Looking forward to cool evenings and hot drinks. Once this hot weather is over, then we can start complaining about the cold.
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Summer Berry Pancakes




It isn't just a recent thing but pancakes have landed on most of the dessert menus in Japan. The slogan "pancakes are not just for breakfast" is taken very seriously here. For me, I prefer pancakes at breakfast with a cup of coffee rather than after a big dinner. The International House of Pancakes (IHOP), an American pancake restaurant icon, is no longer in Japan but that hasn't slowed the growth of pancake lovers.

Hawaiian pancakes have also become popular in Japan. However, besides the tropical flavored syrup such as mango, passion fruit and coconut there isn't that much uniquely Hawaiian about them. I may be wrong and if anyone knows something different, please correct me.

I have to admit that with the abundance of excellent pancake mixes, I am a bit reluctant to whip up a batch from scratch. Due to all of the desserts I usually have around the house, I try to keep the calories down by skimping on breakfast, thus, pancakes are almost never on my breakfast table.

Since I am from the U.S. my go-to-favorite for pancakes mixes is Bisquick. Just a add milk and eggs to the mix and you are ready to start grilling the pancakes in just minutes. The evil calorie laden sister of pancakes is waffles and Bisquick can be used just as easily on the waffle press. I won't allow a waffle press into my house for fear of too many Sunday waffle breakfasts.

For those of you who do want to make pancakes from scratch, the recipe is quite basic. All you need is milk, eggs, flour, baking powder and a little salt. Another of my cooking resources is Martha Stewart and she provides a simple and quick pancake recipe.

Good luck on your pancake or waffle baking and drop me a note if you have an interesting twist on this traditional breakfast or dessert.




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Autumn Lunch Gathering





Looking forward to the fall and cool weahther. This summer Japan is having it's worst heat wave in years. I'm in the kitchen baking and it is 36 degrees Celsius/98 degrees Fahrenheit outside. The air conditioner is competing with the oven and I am spending most of the day drinking iced coffee.

The food spread was for a photo shoot with Ginger magazine (Japanese only). Since the shoot will be for the October edition of the magazine, I wanted to bake something to fit the season of the magazine instead of the current hot sticky one. Thus, the pumpkins and sweet potatoes. 

For the photo shoot, myself and several guests made the sweet potato pie and then we enjoyed a light lunch together. Of course dessert included the pie and the seasonal pumpkin mousse cake. 

In the upper right corner of the photo is a savoury caked baked in a regular pound cake pan. This is a 'go to' recipe for me for light lunches. This cake is not sweet but is made with flour, eggs, olive oil and savoury items such as black olives, bacon, vegetables like zucchini, minced carrots, etc. Pair this with a hearty soup and a salad and you have the perfect lunch.

Cake Salé Recipe

150 grams flour
3 eggs
50 grams olive oil
150 grams milk
8 grams baking powder
1 teaspoon basil paste
30 black olives chopped
50 grams diced ham
50 grams cooked & chopped vegetables such as zucchini, carrots, etc.
20 grams powdered cheese such as Parmesan

1. Prepare a pound cake pan by lightly coating with butter and flour.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder together in a bowl.

3. In another bowl, mix the eggs, milk, olive oil and basil paste together with a small whisk. Add the  flour in portions and continue to mix with the whisk.

4. Lastly, add the olives, ham, vegetables and powdered cheese.

5. Pour into the mixture into the pound cake pan and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 - 35 minutes. Test if completely baked by inserting a tooth pick.

6. After removing from the oven let sit in the pan for about 10 minutes and then remove it to cool completely.

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Peachy Summer Cake




This July cities around Hiroshima in Japan are recovering from record levels of rainfall. If you have a chance to support the recovery effort for the area, please do.

Also, most areas in Japan are experiencing a very hot summer with temperatures staying consistently around 36+ C/90+ F. Very hot indeed. It is hard to think about turning on the oven in such heat but July is also the height of peach season so time to try a few recipes. 

I found this cute ribbon in a shop in Tokyo and couldn't resist to buy. Not sure where you can find it in your country but it is a great to way wrap home baked gifts to give to friends and family members.

This recipe combines white chocolate into a traditional peach cake recipe to give it an extra taste boost.

3 eggs
135 grams plain yogurt
80 grams sugar
240 grams flour
40 grams almond flour
3 grams baking powder
2 peaches 
70 grams white chocolate (chopped)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1.         Preheat the oven to 180 ° C.
  2.        Peel and dice the  peaches. Blanch  the peaches in hot water to peel more easily. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and almond flour.
  3.       In a bowl, pour the yogurt, sugar and vanilla and mix with a small whisk. In  portions, mix in the eggs and mix with a small whisk until well blended. Mix in the flour and baking powder mixture.
  4.        Lastly, mix in the diced peaches and white chocolate and mix with a spatula.
  5.        Pour the mixture into a lightly buttered and floured pan.
  6.        Bake 25 to 30 minutes. After baking, remove from the pan and cool before serving. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with ice cream for a beautiful and delicious summer dessert.
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Creamy Pumpkin Mousse Cake




If you like pumpkin desserts, it is time to think outside of the traditional pumpkin pie. The most popular pumpkins in Japan area called kabacha. The kabacha is actually part of the squash family and is a bit sweeter than traditional pumpkins. Also, the outer skin is a dark color instead of the traditional orange. Kabacha are eaten throughout the entire year and are not seen as an autumn vegetable only.

I love pumpkin desserts and this one is great for the warmer weather. The kabacha puree is mixed with fresh cream and gelatin to create a smooth creamy topping for the light chocolate genoise cake on the bottom.

I used a buche cake mold to make this cake. Interesting shapes are another easy way to up your game with baking. Presentation is just as important as taste when serving your guests.

The recipe starts with the chocolate genoise cake followed by the pumpkin mousse. Maybe I am being lazy but I use frozen kabacha puree since the taste is quite full bodied. I am sure the canned pumpkin will work just as well.

Recipe

Pumpkin Decoration
1/4 fresh pumpkin boiled
1. Boil the pumpkin and drain the water and cool. Using a peeler, cut several thin slice and these will be used to line the pan for decoration.

Chocolate Genoise Cake
(makes a 24 cm x 24 cm cake)

2 eggs
60 grams sugar
50 grams flour
10 grams cocoa
20 grams butter (melted)

1. In a bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa.
2. In a larger bowl, mix the eggs and sugar with a hand mixer until the color is a pale yellow. In several small portions, add the butter and continue to mix with the mixer.
3. Add the flour mixture to above and gently mix with a spatula until everything is well mixed.
4. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius (pre heat the oven) for 20 minutes approximately. Remove the cake from the pan soon after removing from the oven so that it thoroughly cools.

Pumpkin Mousse
250 grams pumpkin puree
70 cc milk
2 egg yolks
60 grams sugar
9 grams gelatin sheets (softened in water)
150 grams fresh cream

1. In a bowl, mix the egg yolk and sugar with a whisk. In a saucepan, heat the milk until just lightly boiling. Pour the milk into the bowl with the egg yolk mixture and mix and then add back to the saucepan and heat on a low heat until the mixture lightly thickens. Lastly, add the gelatin and mix. Strain into a bowl and let cool.
2. In another bowl whisk the fresh cream until just soft peaks form. Do NOT over whip.
3. I another bowl add the pumpkin puree and mix with a whisk to loosen the mixture. Slowly add in #1 and mix together with a small whisk. The mixture should be lightly chilled but be careful not to chill too much since the gelatin will begin to make the whole mixture firm. If the mixture starts to become firm you can heat it lightly over hot water.
4. Mix in the whipped cream in portions with a spatula to the pumpkin anglais (#3) and mix thoroughly.

Putting Everything Together
1. Prepare the buche cake pan by lightly coating with olive olive and then smoothly line with plastic wrap so that there are no wrinkles (or very few). Place several pieces of the sliced pumpkin neatly at the bottom in a nice shape.
2. Pour the pumpkin anglais into the buche mold on top of the pumpkin slice up to about 90 % full. Cut a piece of the chocolate cake to fit on top of the pumpkin anglais. Gently place the chocolate cake on top of the pumpkin anglais and then put in the refrigerator for up to 1 - 2 hours.
3. The cake should be able to be removed from the pan easily if you pull on the plastic wrap.

Happy Baking :)




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Autumn Sweet Potato Pie




I always try to bake to match the season. To me, it doesn't make sense to to buy expensive fruits such as mangoes in January or to make chocolate desserts in the heat of the summer. If you enjoy each of the seasons and the fruits and vegetables that are available, then you can stay better in tune with the nature around you.

Sweet potatoes are easily available throughout the year in Japan, but to me they remind me of fall and winter. Many of the supermarkets in Japan have a display of sweet potatoes at the entrance of the vegetable section and they also usually have warm baked ones available for sale. The smell of warm baked sweet potatoes can hit you as you enter the store and starts your taste buds watering. On a cold evening it is hard to resist putting one in your shopping basket.

Enough about shopping and the seasons, let's get to the baking.


Pie Dough
200 grams flour
100 grams cold butter
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
5 grams sugar

1. Sift the flour into a bowl. Cut butter into small cubes and mix with the flour using a pastry cutter (use a food processor if you have one). Butter should be well mixed with the flour.

2. Add the egg, sugar, salt & water and mix. Put dough on a smooth surface and knead gently until it is soft and well mixed.

3. Cover in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before using.

Almond Cream 
50 grams almond powder
50 grams powdered sugar
50 grams soft butter
5 grams flour
1 egg
5 grams dark rum
1. Mix the butter and powdered sugar. Add the egg and mix. Add the almond powder, flour & rum. Mix well.

Filling
1 sweet potato (baked, peeled & sliced about 300 grams)
1/2 sweet potato thinly sliced (these pieces will be boiled)
30 grams butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
15 grams honey
10 grams dark rum
2 egg yolks
100 grams fresh cream

1. In a bowl, soften the butter then add the brown sugar, honey, rum & egg yolks. Mix well with a whisk.

2. Boil the sliced sweet potatoes in water (add 1 tablespoon sugar to the water) until they are soft. Do not over  boil  or they will break apart.

3. Add the 300 grams sweet potato to #1. You can use a food processor to mix together or a fork. Slowly, add the cream. To remove the lumps, you can  put the mixture through a sieve. 

4. Roll the dough to fit the tart pan and cut off any extra. Fill the bottom with sweet potato filling the cover with almond cream (do not add too much). Arrange the sliced sweet potatoes on top in a nice circle pattern.

5. Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes then reduce to 160 degrees and bake for 40 minutes until browned. 



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No Bake Summer Dessert




Step away from the flour and the oven and fill your shopping basket with summer fruit. While it is warm outside, change to cool and lighter foods and enjoy the delicious summer fruits.

Serving colorful fruit is a great excuse to make a trip to the shops to buy new dishes to complement  the fruit. My kitchen cabinets are bulging with dishes of every shape and color so not much room for new ones.  I found these cute watermelon cups at Cotta.co.jp (Japanese only) several years ago and I  noticed that the design has been slightly updated now. I have bought many cute seasonal dishes from this site and I always need to use restraint whenever I shop there.

The fruit paired with a scoop or two of ice cream makes a great summer dessert. Enjoy it while the weather is hot.


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Very Berry July Fourth Muffins




I have been craving a homemade muffin for awhile. After looking at all of the sad day old muffins in the coffee shops, I just needed to bake my own. Luckily, blueberries are starting to be readily available and less expensive. I saw this recipe in a recent Southern Living magazine and knew it was was time to bake. I love the combination of cornmeal in muffins since it gives a richer taste.

This recipe can be made as either muffins or a cake. An 8-inch cake pan should be fine for the quantity of this recipe. I used two medium size muffin pans and was able to make 12 muffins.

Here is the recipe:

100 grams butter (room temperature)
120 grams sugar
2 eggs
200 grams flour
85 grams cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
90 grams buttermilk
1 1/2 cup blueberries


1. Prepare the baking pans by lightly buttering and dusting with flour. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Mix the sugar and butter with a hand mixer (or standing mixer) until light and fluffy about 2 minutes. Gradually mix in the eggs and mix well after adding each portion.

3. Sift together in a bowl the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and then add the cornmeal.

4. In portions, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture while alternatively adding the butter milk. Mix at a low speed just until everything is well mixed. Lastly, add about one fourth of the fresh blueberries and mix.

4. Pour the mixture into either the muffin tins or the cake pan and sprinkle with the remaining blueberries. Bake about 20 - 30 (the cake will take longer to bake) until lightly browned.

5. Cool for a few minutes before gently removing from the pan.

Since it is so close to July 4th, I thought I would add a few blue & white decorations.


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Easy Fish Tacos





Dinner is ready! We can't always eat dessert so for a quick dinner I have replaced the traditional meat sauce for these tacos with fish.

There is no complicated recipe. You can use your traditional taco shells and fry your favorite fish and serve on the taco shells with sliced tomatoes, avocado, jalapenos (I like spicy), lettuce and cilantro. 

Freshly chopped tomatoes seasoned with  hot sauce is a delicious accompaniment. Again, I like my food spicy. Don't forget the tortilla chips for dipping into that spicy sauce.

Enjoy your dinner!

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Summery Peach Galette


Here is an easy recipe to help you use all of the summer peaches you love.

This tart is baked together with a buttery crust on the bottom and  peaches with an almond cream on top.

This tart takes a short 30 minutes to to bake so dessert will be ready in no time at all.




Recipe

3 peaches (blanch them in hot water to remove the fuzz on the skin)

Crust (Pate brisee)
100 grams flour
50 grams butter (cold)
1/2 egg
1 teaspoon water
pinch of salt
3 grams of sugar

1. Measure the flour into a bowl.Cut the butter into small cubes and mix into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter. (You can also use a food processor for making the pie crust). Lastly, mix in the egg, water, salt and sugar.
2. Lightly knead together on a flat board to blend all the ingredients well. Flatten into a large circle and cover in plastic wrap. Put in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before using. This dough becomes soft quickly so you should work with it quickly.

Almond Cream
50 grams almond powder
50 grams powdered sugar
50 grams soft butter
5 grams flour
1 egg

1. Mix the butter and powdered sugar. Add the egg and mix. Add the almond powder and flour. Mix well.

Making the tart:
1. Roll out the dough to about  a 20 cm circle. Spread the almond cream within the circle but leave about 1 cm around the edge. Place sliced peaches on top of the cream in a nice decoration then fold the edge of the crust inside of the circle. Brush with egg.
2. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 25 - 30 minutes. 



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Kathy
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Hearty Cheddar Cheese and Bacon Bread





This bread is very hearty and can make a full meal by just adding a soup and salad. The cheddar cheese and bacon are a delicious combination for an evening meal or lunch.

Recipe

525 grams bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
370 grams water
150 grams grated red cheddar cheese
100 grams bacon (diced and fried, remove extra grease by draining on a paper towel)
15 grams butter (room temperature)

1. Combine flour, salt and yeast in a bowl and use a small whisk to mix together well.

2. Pour the water over the flour mixture in portions and use a spatula or bench scraper to mix together. After everything is mixed, place on a flat surface and knead together for about 5 - 10 minutes until the dough is soft.  Dough should be soft but not sticky. Let rest under a bowl for about 10 minutes.

3. Lightly warm the butter in your hands and then put on top of the dough and use a bench scraper to incorporate the butter. Knead again so that the bread is soft & supple. If tough, add a tablespoon or so of water and knead again. Add in the cheddar cheese and bacon. Roll into a well formed ball and put in a bowl and cover with wrap. Let rise in warm place for 60 minutes.

4.  Divide the dough into 2 pieces, each with the same weight. Roll each piece into a nice ball. Place on the kneading board and cover with plastic and let rise for 20 minutes (bench time).

5. Flatten each ball to remove the air and roll again into a ball. Place in the bread tin and brush with egg. Place in a warm place. Should rise again for about 60 minutes.

6. Heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Brush again with egg and bake for about 50 minutes. Cover with foil half way through if the top is getting too browned.



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Kathy
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Spring White Chocolate Mousse with Lemon Curd



For a delicious jump into spring, this white chocolate mousse cake is highly recommended. There is a light cake at the bottom as well as in the middle. The white chocolate mousse encircles the cake and  the tangy lemon curd tops it all off.  The flowers decorating the top are actually edible, but not sure if they are readily available where you live.

If you need to save time, you can buy the lemon curd at the store, however, curd made with real lemons is just wonderful. It is recommended to only use fresh lemons, do not use the bottled juice when making lemon curd since the taste is so different.

The cake has 3 steps but overall it goes fairly quick. This recipe fits an 18 cm x 6 cm ring.

Cake

4 egg whites
110 grams sugar
4 egg yolks
20 grams almond powder (flour)
20 grams powdered sugar
90 grams  flour
15 grams butter

1. Sift the almond powder, powdered sugar & flour together in a bowl.
2. Whip the egg whites and gradually add the sugar. Whip until the egg whites until they are stiff then add the egg yolks and mix with a spatula.
3. Add in the almond powder mixture and mix using a spatula. Use a pastry bag and make circles the size of the ring and bake.
4. Bake at 190 degrees Celsius for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
      Lemon Curd

3 eggs
2 large lemons (zest & then juice)
140 grams sugar
50 grams butter (room temperature)
6 grams gelatin sheets

1. Soften the gelatin in water. In another bowl, mix the eggs with a fork.
2. Heat the lemon juice, lemon zest & sugar in a saucepan until lightly boiling. Add the lemon juice mixture to the eggs and mix and then add back to the saucepan and stir with a spatula to mix. Heat on a medium heat and cook for about 5 – 7 minutes until the mixture becomes firm. Turn off the heat and  then add the gelatin and mix well.
3. Strain into a bowl. You can strain twice and use a very fine sieve to remove all of the lemon zest if you like.  Lastly, add the butter and stir until it all melted.

White Chocolate Mousse
2 egg yolks
30 grams sugar
200 grams milk
100 grams white chocolate (melted over hot water)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
9 grams gelatin sheets (softened in water)
200 grams fresh cream

1.   In a bowl mix the egg yolks & sugar. 2. Add the chocolate to another bowl and put over a pan of hot simmering water to melt the chocolate. Turn off the heat when all of the chocolate is melted.3. In a saucepan, heat the milk with the vanilla paste until just boiling then add to the egg mixture and mix. Then add back to the saucepan and heat on a low heat until the mixture starts to thicken. DO NOT boil.  After the mixture is lightly thickened, turn off the heat and add the gelatin and strain into a bowl.
2. In portions, pour the egg mixture over the white chocolate and mix with a small whisk and let cool. Note, both the egg mixture and chocolate should be about the same temperature, about 35 degrees Celsius.
3.  Whip the fresh cream until soft peaks form. Add the chocolate mixture to the fresh cream in portions and mix with a spatula. Put this bowl over ice water while mixing. Mix until it just lightly thickened and then take off the ice water.

Putting the Cake Together

1. Put the ring on a plate and put mousse film around the inside. If you don't have mousse film you can remove the ring by using a kitchen torch to warm the outsides of the ring then the ring will lift off easily.
2. Cut two pieces of cake. The first piece of cake fits inside at the bottom of the ring and then second piece should be cut smaller and will be used later.
3. Spoon the mousse on top of the cake (at the bottom of the ring) to about 1/3 full, place the 2nd piece of cake on top and spread some lemon curd on top of the cake. Fill with the remaining mousse but leave a small space at top to fill with the lemon curd.
4. Lastly, after smoothing the mousse inside the ring add the lemon curd and smooth it using a small palette knife.
5. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Decorations are up to you ;)

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Kathy
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