Sunday, December 19, 2010

Whole Wheat Ravioli with Pesto Cream

So I have been feeling guilty about eating too much white pasta. We all know (or do we?::eyes person in front of her in a sizing up sort of way) that white pasta is just a bunch of 'nothingness'. The carbs in white flour just turn to sugar. You don't get your fiber or other vital nutrients that wheat can give .

Whole wheat just seems to have more taste to it. After you have been feasting on wheat food stuffs, white just tastes plain BLAND. Note: There are exceptions.

Yesterday, I made whole wheat ravioli, mmmm mmmmm mmmm mmmm. At first I was scared for wasting 2 hours of my life making 'healthy whole wheat ravioli'. Explain:: Homemade wheat pasta never did just turn out for me. Either the taste wasn't there or the texture was grainy and wet. Until now!

2 cups of flour
2 eggs
1/4 ts salt
As many TB of h20 as you need to form a stiff dough

Knead for a bit and let rest ( 30min to an hour or more) , wrapped in plastic wrap or a covered bowl. I made mine in the food processor, no dough blades, just the regular chopping blade. I merely dumped everything into it, and occasionally would stick my hand in and press some dough crumbs together to see if they stuck together to form a dough. When they did I merely pressed it into a ball and wrapped it.

Next just roll (or use a pasta cranker like this) until thin enough for your personal taste or setting 2 or 3 as I like. Lay out in front of you, landscape orientation and put your filling in the bottom half, every inch apart, spoonful at a time. Bend over top half, and press around your ravioli, cut them out, then press with a fork to make sure the filling will not leak in the pot.

My filling was ricotta, cheddar (a sprinkle), pepper Jack (a sprinkle), and mozzarella (sprinkle), some fresh oregano, salt, olives, black pepper and red powdered pepper.

NOW THE SAUCE!!!! What made the pasta!
First, I made a roux (of butter and flour). Unfortunately, in my hurry (as usual), I undercooked the flour (and yes you can taste it). So I was forced to cook the sauce itself for a bit longer.
I added a cube of frozen pesto, added some leftover heavy cream and some milk until the consistency was good enough for me, personally. Make sure you mix constantly. Or use a hand blender, what's it called immersion nowadays? I added more pesto, salt, black pepper, basil, as per my taste. Tasting after adding every little spice helps you in the learning process.

Last month I had made a mushroom ravioli with mushroom sauce, and hopefully when I make it again, shall document it. As it was quite good!

Eggless Doughnuts, Baked Donuts

As I heard someone on TV once say about the spelling, "these are dough nuts not do nuts"... smile :)

After many (MANY) days of pondering.... pondering...about doughnuts and which one exactly would make me the most happiest human on earth, I tried this recipe. And yeah, they had to be eggless, as mum is anti-egg. She is so my weight gain preventer; I tempt her tiny body with fatty, sugar filled foods I experiment with and hope she bites.

So, first of all, these did not come up the texture of Dunkin doughnuts. And don't kill me for this but the one time I tried a Krispy Kreme, it was the opposite of "sheer heaven". These are more cake-like, and non spongy. I suppose the recipe creator could have been going for cake doughnuts? I actually thought this would make a good recipe for eggless cake, with a bit of tinkering.

I used:

1 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 ts baking powder
1/2 ts nutmeg
pinch nutmeg

Mix those ingredients together. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan warm up

1.2 c milk

Add the milk to:

1/2 ts vanilla
1/2 ts vinegar
1 ener-g egg replacer
4 TB butter

Mix everything until just combined. Do NOT overmix, you do not need gluten formation in these. I used small ramekins (6) as I did not have a doughnut bake pan, and they worked super fine. Now simply bake for 12 min at 350F.

Problem Area:
Now mine must have baked for half an hour, they just were not done in 12 min or even 20. It was fine, they were probably less soft than they were supposed to be, but quite soft enough for a yummy chocolate covered egg free baked snack.

Afterwards, for the topper, I added a mix of choco chips and heavy cream. No measurements- just jumped it. A handful of chips and a spoonful or two of cream, into the microwave. So, these guys not being fried and having no eggs for those allergic to them, seem to be a healthier breakfast or snack than regular bake shop doughnuts. They taste the best the day of, and lose moisture bit by bit the days afterwards. But don't worry you should gobble them up anyway.

P.S I shall post again when I make a yeasty doughnut, I am hoping will have more crumb 'spring', than this one.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Floral Cupcakes and Self Pride

You hear of many people, who cannot afford it, organizing and setting up their own weddings or receptions. Well, my sister was one of them, and I sold her on the idea that we could make our own desserts worthy of any five star bakery. And that was without any decorating experience-- I am sort of hypnotic. I suppose you can judge for yourselves, based on my pictures, whether as first time cupcake floral engineers we did a praise worthy job or not. And yes, I think we did.

The cupcakes themselves were made from box mixes, neither of us having much experience with scratch baking. The icing was Wilton's from the fabric and craft store Jo-Annes. Now we discovered that your regular grocery store frosting tubs will not make such flowers, nor will they stay their shape. In order to save our pockets we tried the tubs first. The end results were globs of frosting on our little cupcakes, petals melting into petals and creating yummy gobs. We wanted flowers not yummy gobs. We tried every experimental thing we could in order to make use of our cheaper grocery store tubs of frosting. Adding cornstarch, adding meringue powder, confectioners sugar, even flour. In the end we decided to save our money and buy icing instead of experimenting with vast quantities of grocery store butter cream.

Now to make one thing clear, the people we learned out techniques from, were using homemade butter cream for the flowers. I do not know whether the brands we chose, the outside temperature, humidity, or even us, were responsible for the store tubs not working.

Now you ask, how did we learn to make these flowers? YouTube of course! The vast beautiful video encyclopedia of our time. I originally came upon this crazy amazing thing called a cupcake basket, where flower cupcakes were propped onto sticks and stuck into a foam filled clay pot. Amazing! And not as easy as a video makes it look. In the end, with our time crunch (we made the cupcakes fresh, the day before the reception) we decided to just serve the little 'flowers' as is. Simply search for flower cupcakes, in youtube and study the videos. You can practice on little saucers first, this way you can scoop it up and reuse it. Scooping it off of a cupcake will give you iceing with cupcake crumbs!

Egg-less Lemon Poppy-Seed Muffins for Mom

I always knew you could make egg less cakes, cookies, and baked goods. The problem was, I never thought they were as good as the egg filled options. You didn't get the soft, springy baked goods that evoked happy thoughts. Instead you got dense cakes, flat and doughy cookies, and mushy muffins. I now know better. Ha! Didn't expect that twist did ya?

Now I hear about tofu pureed into cake mixes. Baking soda & vinegar solutions that react and make cake rise (which I personally found very cool). There is applesauce and pumpkin puree, banana mush (which I wouldn't touch with a 346 foot pole), and even black bean mash (no those cupcakes did NOT turn out good). But some of these do work (such as flax seeds) and I am going to experiment with each to see which will work the best.

In the above recipe, which I made especially for me mum, I used extra baking soda instead of eggs. The rose beautiful and the texture was soft, but alas you could taste salty baking soda permeating every bit you dare to bite. Mum still ate them........I do not often make things either chocolate or egg free!

The recipe was taken from the website.

1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup yogurt + dash lemon extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

I mixed the milk, oil, & yogurt together. Then added the flour, sugar, poppy, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix until everything is wet, not more unless you'd like dense puck type muffins. I usually don't add the salt called for in my sweet baked goods. Bake at 400F for 15-17 minutes. Then top with the mixture of confec sugar and lemon juice. MMMMM.

Now I posted the recipe as I made it, not the original. I did not have lemon yogurt or zest and added more extrct to compensate as well as some juice. My poppyseeds were old, and I used less of them as well. To compensate for no eggs I added a pinch more baking soda, but now as I write this wonder if I needed do anything? I am going to try this recipe without compensating for eggs, lets see how that goes. Mmmmm, mushy....... :)

*P.S- I had heard about muffin tops being sold in bakeries but, never thought a pan existed for them, well here it is....OvenStuff Muffin Caps Pan!