Saturday, May 25, 2013

Chocolate and citrus marmelade cupcakes

If you're like me and an awesome friend gave you a jar of kick@$$ mixed citrus marmelade that's so good you are running out of toast to eat it, look no further! This is a perfect recipe to use the liquid gold that is citrus jam.

If you don't have citrus or orange marmelade, don't worry you can absolutely make those cupcakes with just the zest and juice of the fruit!

Enjoy and feel free to comment!

INGREDIENTS (14 cupcakes - technichally yields 16, but a good baker needs to taste with and without frosting, no?)
for the cupcake batter:
- 1 cup AP flour
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 egg
- 1 stick butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup orange juice, with a splash of grapefruit flavored vodka (or not if you are baking for kids)
- 1/2 cup milk
- a splash of vanilla extract
- zest of 1 orange
- any kind of citrus marmelade, optionnal (mine is a mix of grapefruit, lemon and orange, a present from my friend R.)

for the frosting:
- 2 cups of confectionner sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 stick of butter
- a splash of vanilla extract
- a splash of grapefruit flavored vodka, optionnal

prepare the batter first:
- preheat your oven at 350F
- cream the sugar and butter until fluffy

- add the egg, zest and vanilla and beat at low speed until soft and creamy

- mix the dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt

- mix the milk and orange juice

- incorporate the dry ingredients and the milk-OJ mixture alternately, finishing by the dry ingredients and mix until smooth

- line a cupcake tray with paper liners and fill to 1/3 with batter, add a small spoonful of jam on top and cover with batter to 2/3 of the pan

Note: if you don't have jam, just skip the intermediate layer, and just fill the cupcake pan 2/3 up :)
- bake for 20 minutes at 350F (oopsie, looks like I forgot to take a picture of the final product!)
- let cool completely on a rack until ready to frost

prepare the frosting:
- mix the butter, zest, confectionner sugar and cocoa powder

- add the orange juice and mix until smooth

- fill a pastry bag (or just a plain ziploc bag that you cut a corner from) and frost away!

Try not to eat the paper liner... ;)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Quick and easy couscous fish cakes

Have you ever felt completely uninspired in the kitchen?

Ever asked yourself "what am I ever going to make for lunch??", "what I am going to do with a half a cup of couscous?!" or "why oh why did I buy 5 lbs of frozen fish?!?"

Well I have... And this recipe is what came out :D

Not only does it use freezer and pantry items, but you can even make it into a 3-in-1 serving it with cooked veggies leftover.

Oh, and it's healthy too!

INGREDIENTS (yields about 12 patties):
- 4 frozen flounder filets, thawed and drained (you can use any fish you like, this just happens to be what I had in my freezer)
- 3 frozen haddock filets, thawed and drained. Make sure to squeeze out any residual liquid or the patty mixture will be too moist.
- 1/2 cup leftover cooked couscous (or any cooked grains or cereals like quinoa, grits, rice, barley. Mashed potatoes will work too)
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (or dry instant oats, regular breadcrumbs, crushed saltines, AP flour, basically anything to adjust moisture of the patty mix)
- salt, pepper, dried thyme (or any seasoning you feel like)
- the juice of half a lemon
- 1 clove of garlic
- olive oil for cooking

- put the fish filets in a food processor and pulse-puree until almost smooth

Note: I like my fish cakes to still have a few pieces of fish for texture
- season with salt, pepper, lemon juice, grated garlic and crushed thyme and pulse quickly once more

- transfer the fish mixture in a bowl and add the cooked couscous and half of the panko. Mix well using your hands and adjust the moisture level with panko until satisfied

- form 12 flat round patties

- heat the olive oil in a wide frying pan and cook the patties over medium heat until golden and crispy (about 3 minutes on each side)

- serve with any veggie side you like. I served my fish cakes with a side of chilled Bohémienne (a ratatouille-like eggplant and tomato stew) and a slice of lemon.

- Bon app!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Meyer lemon curd pie

Lemon curd pie is my absolute favorite dessert ever. Eh. Vah.

I used Jamie Oliver's recipe for inspiration, and mixed Meyer lemons with regular lemons for a little something extra.

Perfect balance of sweet and tart. Melts in your mouth...


for the crust (2 servings, you will only use one for the pie but you can freeze the other half and you'll have pie crust ready for next time!):
- 2 whole eggs
- 250g butter, at room temperature (about 2 1/4 sticks)
- 200g confectioner sugar
- a splash of vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup cold milk (I used fat free, but any milk is fine)
- 500g AP flour
- zest of 1 Meyer lemon
- a pinch of salt

for the filling (1 serving):
- 7 whole eggs
- 7 yolks (you can keep the whites for a meringue topping, or macarons)
- 380g caster sugar
- juice and zest of 4 Meyer lemons and 4 regular lemons (you can use just regular lemons if you cannot find Meyer lemons)
- 320g very cold butter, diced in 1/2 inch cubes (about 2 3/4 sticks)

1) prepare the crust:
- preheat your oven at 350F
- cream the butter and confectioner sugar together until fluffy and smooth

- add the lemon zest and vanilla extract

- add the flour and eggs, alternating and mixing well between each addition until it looks a bit dry and crumbly

Note: the dough should look dry, but when pressed together it should form a ball and stick together
- form a flat patty, wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour

Note: it is important to shape the dough into a flat patty and not just a ball, because you want the dough to cool down uniformly. If it is in a ball, the center of the ball will not cool as much as the surface.
- after the dough has rested an hour and feels harder to the touch, cut the patty in half. Keep one half for today and freeze the rest, wrapped in plastic.
- crumble the dough (or coarsely grate it) directly in a buttered and floured pie form and pat it down until it forms a uniform layer in the bottom and on the sides of the form. Trim the excess and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes in the fridge or 10 minutes in the freezer before baking.

- bake dry for 15 minutes at 350F (place a sheet of aluminum foil on top of the dough and weigh down with baking weights, or dry beans or rice you keep only for that purpose). After baking for 15 minutes, take out of the oven and let rest while you prepare the filling

2) prepare the filling:
- add the sugar, lemon juice and zest to the eggs and yolks and beat until sugar is dissolved

- transfer to a pot and stir continuously on very low heat (even better to use a double boiler, but I just did not have one at hand)

Note: it is crucial to stir all the time: trust me, you do not want to have scrambled eggs in the bottom of your pan!
- after a few minutes, when the mixture is warm and starting to thicken a little, you can start adding the very cold butter, a few cubes at a time. Stir, stir, stir!!!

- cook on very low heat until the curd thickens and covers a wooden spoon evenly, and strain the curd through a fine sieve to remove any clumps that may have formed and gritty zest

- pour the filling in the cooled crust

Note: it may still look a bit liquid while hot, but as it cools down, it will set into a soft yet sturdy filling :)
- refrigerate for at least 3 to 4 hours before serving
- serve with fresh fruit (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, kiwi, whatever you feel like!) and strong coffee.