Monday, 23 May 2011

A rose by any other name, would be a delicious buttercream rose!

So, I decided to try my hand at the elusive buttercream rose as I had so much buttercream left over from the maple buttercream of a few days ago. It didn't turn out as badly as I thought. I imagined a busted pastry bag and a terrified family cowering in the corner of the kitchen. Instead, I made flowers. I'm going to provide a list of websites and how-to videos that I spent my morning watching. I have never done this before. I literally just watched these videos this morning and then practiced the flowers. This flower here was my 20th and final attempt. You will need:

Rose Tip Wilton 104
Pastry Bag
Flower Nail
Pre-cut Flower Squares

To get the multi-coloured flower I put half white and half coloured buttercream into my pastry bag. Simply separate your icing into however many different colours you want to use and then tint each bowl of icing a different colour. Add your colours down one side of the pastry bag - do NOT pile them one on top of the other or they will only come out in that order and not create the multi-coloured effect.

Here's what I took a look at:
Video 1 - very informative video by a professional. I wouldn't attempt to make your center this high though, unless you really know what you're doing. I stuck to one little mound in the center.
Video 2 - A little lengthy but shows the technique fairly clearly. And shows what you can do without a flower nail.
Video 3 - Awesome finished product!

And also read:
Written Instructions - these actually seemed to help me the most, even though I am absolutely terrible at following directions. I once failed to read the instructions and fully boil my jello before setting it in the fridge, and ended up with a partially-congealed mess that I feared would develop a life of it's own and turn into this:

At any rate, remember to have fun and it does require practice. Those people in the videos are only that good because they don't have lives and this is all they do. Just kidding! That's just the bitterness talking.  Good luck!

A plain pink rose.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Oma's Po-tay-to salad

It's finally warming up here in Saskatoon (yes, several months behind schedule of course) which means it's barbecue season! Big Tom fired up the grill and I made my Oma's delectable potato salad. I find most people manage to totally fuck up their potato salad somehow. It should be really, very simple. A dab of this, a dollop of that, shake some salt and pepper over that bitch and chow down. Here's what I did:

10 yukon gold potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces and boiled
2 pickles, diced
2 hard boiled eggs
8-10 chives (which I was able to snag fresh out of the garden)
6 tbsp mayonnaise or miracle whip
1 tbsp mustard
salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil the eggs and the potatoes.
2. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl. Chop the eggs (obviously when they're cool enough to handle) and add to the potatoes.
3. Add in mayonnaise and mustard. The measurements I have there are approximations. I find that the yukon gold potato has a rich and delicate flavour if you don't swamp it with condiments. If you add too much it will just mask the flavour instead. So do it to taste.
4. Here I take a fork and mash the potatoes a bit with the mayo and mustard - I find this enables you to get away with adding very little mayo and gives a nice texture to the salad. I'd say you want about 3/4 whole potatoes and 1/4 mushy potatoes.
5. Toss in your pickles and chives.
6. Add salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.  
7. Refrigerate about 30 minutes before serving. I find that the longer it sits the more flavorful it gets.

Certainly far more delicious and less bizarre than this.

Jumbo Banana-Walnut Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream

Behold, the diet-buster, in all it's glory. I'm not going to lie, it's been two days and I'm still snacking on these suckers. Here are the ingredients:

Banana-Walnut Cupcakes:

3 ripe bananas
2 cups cake flour ( I just used regular flour and it turned out just fine, beautiful crumb and all)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (you know what, I ALWAYS use salted. It makes all the difference, I swear. Just give it a go, just once.)
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
handful and a half of chopped walnuts - the original recipe didn't actually call for them, but who doesn't want walnuts in their banana cake?

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add bananas, and beat to combine. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of sour cream, and beating until just combined after each. Beat in vanilla.

3. In another bowl, with electric mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites to soft peaks. Don't forget, if there is any fat in the bowl the egg whites will not do their thing. Make sure you use a clean bowl, and if there are any doubts you can rub a halved lemon all over the inside of the bowl to get rid of the fat! Handy tip I just learned the other day. Once the egg whites have reached soft peaks, fold one-third whites into the batter to lighten it. Gently fold in remaining whites in two batches. It should look like the third picture above when folded in.

5. Naturally, I forgot to take a photo at the point at which I added the walnuts, but this would be about the time to do it. Right here, after you add the egg whites and before you put it in the oven. 

4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester comes out clean. You can choose to do 12 smaller cupcakes or do what I did and do 6 jumbo ones. If you do 12 then bake for about 20 minutes. If you choose to do 6 then bake for about 40 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely before removing from tins.

Maple Buttercream:

1 cup salted butter
3  teaspoons of maple extract
4 cups of icing sugar
4-5 tablespoons of cream
from: Kitchen Magpie

1. Cream the butter - if you have a paddle beater this makes for ultimate butter cream. It reduces the amount of air bubbles in it and makes for uber-awesome piping. If not, don't worry about. I'm poor and don't have a paddle beater either. One can dream though, can't they?

2. Add the icing sugar. I like to do it one cup at a time and taste it between each addition, just to make sure it's not going to be too sweet or too dry for me. As Bob Ross says, "This is your world" so make your damn butter cream however you want. He probably didn't say that last bit. I did though. Also, note that the consistency will change after you add the liquid.

3. After all of the icing sugar has been added, add your cream. I've found that using real cream has always granted the best results but I've also used things like soy or almond milk in a bind.

4. Add the maple extract. I suppose you could add whatever extract you wanted, really. Coffee would probably taste really good with this too. Or even chocolate. Mmmmm....I'm hungry now.

This is what it should look like when done

 Piping and decorating:

If you're like me chances are you got a star tip that was too big for your pastry bag. Which resulted in this MacGyver:

Note: if you squeeze too hard the seams will burst and icing will come shooting out in all directions causing the user to shout a stream of profanities against their will. What do you suppose a "crap weasel" is anyway?

I used a Wilton 2D Star Tip for this number.

A General with a cupcake army in the background.

The finished product.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Welcome to my Blog!

Welcome to my blog! If you're like me you're probably reading this while making dinner/studying/dreaming up a new crafting project/running around the house trying to figure out why all of your underwear are mysteriously missing (the latter two leading to the crocheted underwear incident of '07) or some combination of all four. Welcome, friend. I do a lot of things on the fly, often whilst sipping an occasional glass of wine...or three. Mostly I LOVE to cook and create delicious and esthetically pleasing meals. Hence, the name of this blog. I hope to share the knowledge I have while gaining some for myself at the same time. I'm definitely no Martha Stewart but then again neither is any mere mortal. Join me, haphazardly!